Monday, December 16, 2013

The Ending You Want

The school term has come an end, which means that I'll get some time off for Christmas. I'm going to visit my parents, who live in another state, for a few days. The rest of the time I'll be in Chicago. I'll be using my Christmas break mainly to work on my dissertation, clean out my apartment, and write fiction. Oh, and I'll probably "relax" at least 5% of the time and do something fun. (What? I'm a neurotic workaholic, not a laid-back slacker! And even when I "relax" and do something that isn't work, I'm still thinking about all the work that I have to do.)

Now that I have some free time, I've come back to my manuscripts, one of which includes a love triangle. I've come up with more than one ending for it. In one ending, the main character ends up with the "right" guy. But something about that ending feels wrong to me. I feel like it's the ending that I want, not the ending that the main character wants.

For me, my characters do become "real", in some sense. Not real in the sense that I ate breakfast with the main character and am going to go out later and give wedgies to annoying people with her best friend. But "real" in the sense that sometimes when I'm writing, the characters say or do something that surprise me, because I hadn't even been thinking about it before. That's why I'm not very good at plotting, because I don't always know what's going to happen ahead of time. And I think that's part of what makes writing fun. (Of course, if plotting works for you, keep doing it.)

At first, the main character resembled me in many respects, but as I kept writing, she started developing a personality of her own. (But she still possesses several of my traits, such as the fact that she yells at her neighbors to MOVE OUT when they have one of their "Let's party like we don't have neighbors" parties.) That's why when I tried to write this one ending for her, it felt like she kept shaking her head and saying, "NO! That's what you would do, not what I would do."

If I change the ending, it changes the entire tone of the story. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it is hard for me to just let go and let the characters tell their story. In addition to being a neurotic workaholic, I'm also a control freak.

One reason I've been thinking about this a lot lately is that I didn't get the ending I wanted with my crush. No, I didn't ask him out, but he did snub me recently. I won't get into specifics on how he snubbed me, because I'm still nervous that he'll find this blog somehow (incidentally, outside of the blogosphere, most people don't know that I'm Neurotic Workaholic or even that I want to be a writer, because I keep my writing life a secret).

He didn't snub me in a cruel way, not in the way that would make Taylor Swift write an angry song about him. But it was more of a thoughtless snub, and it cut deep all the same. The ending I wanted was one where I could finally give up online dating FOREVER and be with a guy who I thought was worth the wait. But it just didn't turn out that way.

Don't worry. I'm okay, or at least I will be...eventually. I'm going to go listen to one of my Taylor Swift playlists on my iPod. Yes, I have more than one.

Does that ever happen to you? That is, do you find yourself struggling with the ending or other scenes, where you want your characters to act one way but they keep resisting and make the scenes fall flat or come up with their own scenes? How do you deal with it?

Monday, December 9, 2013

All I Want for Christmas

1. Is to be able to teach at a good school for as long as I can. Teaching is the one job that I've learned the most from, and I still feel happiest when I'm in a classroom, interacting with my students.

2. Is for all my students to throw their cell phones in the air and say, "Who needs texting, anyway?" (That will never happen, but a girl can dream.)

3. Is to continue to improve and strengthen my skills as a teacher. Even though I've grown a lot since I first stepped over to the other side of the desk, there is still a lot that I need to learn.

4. Is to travel more, starting with my trip to New York sometime in 2014. I've always wanted to go there, but I never did due to lack of time and money. But now I finally have money saved up, and I'm going to go and be like all those awe-struck tourists that both annoy and amuse me here in Chicago.

5. Is to make more time for writing, reading,  dance classes, and even socializing. And I want to make more time for other fun things in Chicago, like bike riding by the lake when it's warm out or getting cheap tickets to a really interesting play at one of the tiny theaters.

6. Is to have the strength to stand up to the people who make me feel bad about myself. I mentioned in my last post that it was difficult for me to even believe that my crush could ever like me. I focused so much on what certain people thought was wrong with me and didn't spend enough time thinking about the fact that there ARE good things about me, even if they can't see it.

7. Is to let myself feel something real for someone. For a long time I kept my heart closed off to everyone, because I was so afraid of being rejected and getting hurt. But it didn't really make me feel better. It just made me feel numb. I don't want to feel like that anymore. I still might get rejected, and I still might get hurt. But I don't want to keep myself closed off anymore.

I'd like to say that I've found the courage to ask out my crush on a date. I'd also like to say that I didn't eat Froot Loops for dinner because I accidentally set fire to the chicken I tried to make first. But then I'd just be lying.

What about you? What do you want for Christmas, or what kinds of changes do you want to make?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Unrequited Crushes

For the past few weeks, I've had an unrequited crush on someone. I don't want to give away too many revealing details about who he is, because then he might find my blog and recognize himself and OH DEAR GOD, THAT JUST CANNOT HAPPEN BECAUSE IF HE FINDS MY BLOG HE'LL THINK I'M EVEN WEIRDER THAN HE (AND EVERYONE ELSE) ALREADY DOES.

I will say that he's funny, smart, nice, cute, and easy to talk to. He's also only gotten on my nerves on three separate occasions, which is at least fifty-seven times less than the average person. He's someone I've known for a while. I never really thought about him like THAT before. But we were talking one day and for some reason I suddenly saw him in a new light, and I recognized all those good qualities that he had. I found myself thinking about him...a LOT, even more than I think about coffee, books, and the reasons why the average person bugs me. If that's not a crush, then what is?

He's the first person I've had a crush on in a long time. It's also the first time in years that I've had a crush on someone who I didn't meet on an online dating site first. The last time I had a crush on a guy that I didn't meet online was about five years ago, when I started socializing with other people my age at my church. We used to go out to dinner together, and there was a guy who was good-looking, friendly, and genuinely kind to everyone. AND he went to Mass every Sunday! What was not to like?

Unfortunately, that guy didn't like me back. He liked another girl who went out to dinner with us, someone who was at least fifteen pounds thinner than me and actually knew how to put on makeup and walk in heels without falling over. I never told him how I felt. I doubted that it would even matter to him.

I haven't told this new guy how I feel either because a) he's planning to move away soon; b) if he liked me, I think he probably would have asked me out by now, because he's not the shy type; c) based on certain things he's told me, there's someone else that he's thinking of right now. It feels like what happened with that other crush all over again.

At first I thought I only liked this new guy because of all the online dating profiles where guys specified that they were looking for women who "look like Natalie Portman, but I'll settle for someone who looks like Scarlett Johansson" and the guys who indicated that they didn't want to date women who weighed more than the guys' weight limit (I am not making this up). I thought I only liked him because of all the dates I'd gone on with the wrong guys. I thought maybe I liked him because I was lonely. But the more that I thought about him, the more I realized that I liked him because of HIM.

I'm embarrassed to admit that once I realized I had a crush on him, I immediately thought of all the reasons he would never like me. I'm not thin enough. I'm too neurotic, too much of a workaholic, and I want to start carrying around a whoopee cushion that I can use against people who bug me. One reason I view myself in this way is that when I was growing up, there were people who constantly made me feel like I wasn't good enough. There are still people who make me feel that, and sometimes it's hard not believe them. I know that they're wrong, but...

It's just a crush. It'll go away eventually. And maybe the next time I have a crush on someone, he'll actually like me back. And he'll NEVER make me feel like I'm not good enough. He'll also come with me to buy whoopee cushions.

What about you? Have you ever had an unrequited crush on anyone? How did you deal with it?

This video doesn't have anything to do with unrequited crushes, but it does make me feel better about not being in a relationship. It also makes me like Kerry Washington and Jay Pharoah even more.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


1. I'm thankful that I have a roof over my head and that I can pay the rent on my own apartment. I'm also thankful that even though I have to share a building with my neighbors, I don't have to share my studio with them. This is important because at least one of them threw up in the laundry room and left the vomit there.

2. I'm thankful that I don't have to cook Thanksgiving dinner for anyone, because then they would have to see me accidentally set my clothes on fire (which is what happened the last time I tried to cook something). Then they would have to eat burnt pizza, because somehow I still manage to burn frozen pizza almost every time.

3. I'm thankful for writing and the blank pages of my journal, which I can fill with short stories, ideas for novels, and statements like, "I had another dream where I was working the whole time. I think I really am incapable of relaxing, even in my sleep."

4. I'm thankful that even after teaching hundreds of students over the course of several years, teaching is something that I still love to do. It is one of the few things that I can do with confidence. I admit that I've tripped and fallen flat on my face in front of my students on more than one occasion, but I popped back up and kept teaching with confidence (and a sore face).

5. I'm thankful that Twitter has given me a new outlet; it's fun to Tweet whenever I want. And I like reading other people's humorous and interesting Tweets. It makes the commute more bearable, which is good because then I'm much less likely to start throwing things at the people who blast their music on their headphones.

6. I'm thankful that I live in Chicago, a city that I've loved ever since I moved here. I also love that it's basically a requirement to eat deep-dish pizza here, because what kind of Chicagoan would you be if you didn't like the pizza? (And I'm still mad at Jon Stewart for insulting my city's pizza. I'd throw a pizza at his face, but then I wouldn't get to eat the pizza.)

7. I'm thankful for good books and the authors who write them. I wish I could meet more of these authors and do that Wayne and Garth thing where I throw myself at their feet and yell, "I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy!"

What about you? What are you grateful for?

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Give up or Keep Writing

I haven't been able to write fiction that much lately, partly because I've been immersed in my other book: my dissertation, which might as well be titled The Book That Will Help Cure Insomnia or I Can Over-Analyze That Book in Five Footnotes.

I did write drafts for two novels. I say "drafts" because neither of them have been fully revised yet. I know how I'm going to revise the first one, but I've been struggling with the second one on the few occasions I have had time to work on it. I've started to wonder if I should just scrap that entire manuscript and focus on the first one, and then start another story later.

It's hard for me to just walk away from that second manuscript, though. I really like the characters, and there are several pages that I'm proud of. A part of me thinks that if I give up on the story now, I'll go into withdrawal, like the time I tried to give up coffee but only made it a few days before I ran with open arms to the nearest Starbucks and practically shrieked, "I don't care what kind of coffee you give me. Just give me the BIGGEST ONE with the MOST CAFFEINE!" (I wish I could say I am making that up. Giving up caffeine would be like saying that I'm going to retire early, and just the thought of not working AT ALL made me throw up in my mouth a little. What would I DO if I retired? RELAX? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!)

Even though I do like several parts of this story, there are other parts that don't feel right or ring true. I could just take out the parts that don't work, or maybe I really could throw out the manuscript altogether. I also considered keeping at least some of the characters and putting them in a new story that I've been thinking about for a while now.

Maybe one reason I'm struggling with what to do is because even though I've left some stories unfinished in the past, it's hard to give up on this one. I've been working on it for a long time. I don't like the idea of quitting, partly because I'm a workaholic. On the other hand, I have quit jobs before, like my job at the Tourist Trap. But that was partly because if I worked there a day longer I just might have ended up hurling souvenirs at people. It's easy to quit a job that you hate. It's not so easy to give up on something that's important to you.

But I know that even if I do give up on this manuscript, that doesn't mean I'm giving up on writing altogether. If I tried to do that, I really WOULD go into withdrawal, and then the baristas at Starbucks would freak out and run away screaming at the sight of me.

What about you? Have you ever stopped working on a manuscript? What makes you decide whether to keep working on it or move on to another story?

Monday, November 11, 2013

What I'd Like to Say to Chicago Commuters

1. If you're going to throw up, please aim in the OTHER direction.

2. No, your purse does NOT need its own seat. So move it before I sit on YOU. 

3. The "No Smoking" signs on the train and the subway platforms really do mean that you shouldn't smoke. It does NOT mean you should stand right beside the sign and light up.

4. I get that you love your death metal music. I prefer Miley, Britney, and Ke$ha, but I know that not everyone likes them. That's why I don't BLAST my music at a volume so loud that it would make Chicago commuters want to tackle me. So could you please turn it down?

5. Just because I happen to glance in your direction for a millisecond, that does not mean I am inviting you to come over and hit on me/convert me to your cult/expose yourself to me.

6. During rush hour, the trains are often late and end up becoming even more crowded with commuters. I know that you don't want to have to wait for the next train, because who knows when (or if) it'll show up? But if you see a train that's so crowded that people are literally spilling out of it, the logical thing to do is to just wait for the next train, rather than squeeze yourself onto it and then scream at people to move back.

7. If you want to see a bunch of Chicago commuters EXPLODE at the same time, scream at them for not making room for you when the train is so crowded that it's impossible for them to move, let alone make room for you.

8. It's okay if you want to talk on your cell phone, as long as you're quiet about it. But do realize we can hear everything you say, including all the details of your latest breakup/what's going on in your family/why you hate your job (and your boss just might be on the train at the same time).

9. A lot of people cut in front of each other in order to get on the train first. That's something that will never change. But I do wish that people would stop shoving each other in order to get on the train first, because otherwise a certain neurotic workaholic just might end up pulling people's hair in response.

10. It's important and necessary to floss. It's NOT necessary to floss when you're sitting right next to me on the train.

I have to take buses and trains to get to school, the Loop, Grant Park, the lake, and my favorite neighborhoods, like Chinatown, Boystown, Wicker Park, and Greektown. I also have to do a lot of walking just to get to the grocery store, my favorite coffee shop, the bookstore, and basically any place that sells candy (because I really am that addicted to sugar), just like the other locals. I spend hours commuting every week, and it can be very tiring and stressful. I usually read a book or listen to music to pass the time, but sometimes even Taylor Swift and Katy Perry aren't enough to make the commute more bearable. It's one of the things you just have to deal with when you're a city dweller, I guess.

But on the other hand, being a Chicago commuter makes me feel like a true local who can travel confidently (usually) from one end of the city to the other. I look around at the other commuters and I feel like I'm part of a community, even if the community members occasionally yell and shove each other just to get a seat. Although the tiny Midwestern town where I grew up will always be home, at the same time I never truly felt like I belonged there. I always felt out of place, which is one of the reasons I became a loner and started reading and writing so much; books (including my own stories) gave me the chance to escape.

But Chicago really does feel like home, and I feel like I really do belong here. I've always figured that my time here had an expiration date, because once I do finish graduate school, I'll have to go wherever the jobs are. That means I might end up living in a small town again, and that's okay. But Chicago will always be home to me.

What about you? What is it about your hometown that makes you feel like you belong, or is there another place that you feel more at home in?

Monday, November 4, 2013

See the World

Every time I take a flight, I think of the best ways to deal with people who steal my seat on the plane and then refuse to move: 1) Move to another seat; 2) Head-butt them; 3) Smear airplane food all over their clothes; 4) Make them listen to my Nothing but Britney and Nothing but Taylor Swift playlists.

The last time I took a flight was a few weeks ago, and just as I feared, some jerk insisted on taking my seat because she couldn't bear being apart from her boyfriend for a few hours. I should have put my foot down and made her move, because I paid extra money to reserve my seat in advance. That was MY seat, and she had no right to take it. And the thing is, these losers steal my seat and then refuse to move almost EVERY TIME I TAKE A FLIGHT.

Instead, I ended up sitting in a seat nearby, which turned out to be broken because I couldn't adjust it. I spent half the flight dry heaving into a barf bag, partly because I got airsick, and partly because I was sick of the couple sitting beside me who looked like they were sucking each other's lips off.

When I was at the airport, I tried to buy a box of Band-Aids because I accidentally cut my finger opening a candy bar. (Maybe I should start eating fruit more often?) But one small box of Band-Aids cost more than six dollars! After the flight I had, I was ready to start head-butting people. But I didn't.

I think what was really bothering me was the fact that I had to take a week off from school in order to go to my parents' home in another state and take care of their dogs while my parents went on a trip. They travel frequently, and almost every time they do, I go to their home to take care of the dogs.

I love Neurotic Jr. and Jane Dog very much, even though Jane Dog threw up on my jeans once. I don't want them to be put in a kennel, because I know they would be very frightened and unhappy. I wish I could have them with me all the time, but my building doesn't allow dogs. (I think they should throw out the people who scatter trash all over the hallway and pass out in front of my door and let the dogs live in the building instead. The dogs would be much less trouble and less likely to get drunk on a regular basis.)

But it's a huge hassle to keep taking time off from work. Taking care of two dogs also takes up a lot of time, so much so that I was barely able to work on my dissertation while I was there. It also bothered me that I've hardly done any traveling at all in more than a decade.

I went to New Orleans last year, but that wasn't my choice; it was for a relative's wedding. I went to Kentucky to review AP English literature exams, but that was for work. While other people in their twenties went on road trips or backpacked through Europe, I was shelving books at a bookstore, folding clothes at a clothing store, teaching undergrads and grading papers, tutoring, teaching high school students, and doing work for my website job. I was determined to be independent by earning my own money.

I used to envy the customers at the bookstore who bought maps and guides to other cities or countries. I bought travel narratives by people like Alice Steinbach, who wrote two wonderful books about what it was like to be a single woman traveling on her own. I dreamed about the places that I wanted to visit someday, if only I had the time and money: New York City. Boston. Seattle. London. Rome. Tokyo. Madrid. And so on and so on.

I have some money saved up that's separate from my emergency fund. I've finally decided that sometime this year (maybe during the summer) I'm going to take a weekend trip to New York City, because I've always wanted to go there. (I'd like to stay longer, but I can only afford to go there for a few days.) I'm going to be the typical tourist: big shorts, I Heart New York T-shirt, camera, maps, and all. Even though I am and always will be a workaholic with an aversion to vacations (I use school vacations to catch up on work and clean my apartment), I still think I should start traveling more and see the world. I think I've earned that right.

What about you? Do you do a lot of traveling? If you do, where have you gone? If you haven't, where do you think you'd like to go?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Tweet 'Em

I recently set up my own Twitter account. It's something I resisted doing for a long time, partly because of the fact that I had to practically arm-wrestle some of my students in order to get them to stop Tweeting during class.

I also noticed that several people on Twitter post pictures of themselves, which is one of the reasons I never joined Facebook. I am not photogenic AT ALL, because I think I look like a cartoon character who hasn't slept in five days, drinks too much coffee, and would rather use her hairbrush to throw it at someone who cut in front of her in line than to use it to brush her hair.

I also read other people's Tweets, which said stuff like "Watching TV" and "Just bought a new shirt" or "I'm eating pizza right now." Several celebrities who shall remain nameless respond to their fans on Twitter, but then most of their Tweets just say stuff like, "Thanks for watching!" and "Happy Birthday, Fan Whose Name I'll Forget in Two Seconds!" If I really want to read something that makes me bored, I'll go back to reading the scholarly books and articles for my dissertation. I don't see why it's necessary to Tweet about every single thing I'm doing, especially because then I'd just be Tweeting something like, "Listening to Miley Cyrus' new song for the twentieth time." (What? I like her!)

But I started reading Tweets by people like Conan O'Brien, who posts at least one hilarious Tweet a day. I also noticed that several writers I admire are on Twitter, like Joyce Carol Oates, Anne Lamott, Jen Lancaster, Dave Barry, and Amy Tan. The cool thing about that is that I don't have to wait until their next book to come out before I can read something else that they wrote.

I also thought that maybe Twitter would be good writing practice. I've had writer's block lately, and I thought that maybe a Tweet could turn into a blog post or I could even use it in one of my manuscripts.

So I'm on Twitter now. I had to put "Weird Workaholic" as my username, because "Neurotic Workaholic" was apparently too long. (I kind of wanted to put "Weird Al Workaholic", but that would've been too long too.) I suppose I AM pretty weird, because I don't know a lot of other thirty-two-year-olds who listen to Miley Cyrus or who plot revenge (usually my plots include whoopee cushions or water balloons) against people who annoy her.

I've written about Twitter before and included my own Tweets in previous blog posts, so I may "recycle" some of those Tweets. But I also came up with some new Tweets, because there's always something ELSE for me to obsess over. I'm not posting any pictures of myself, though, because I don't want any of my students, classmates, or professors to know who "Neurotic Workaholic" is. I also really do think I look like a sleep-deprived, misanthropic, and caffeine-addicted cartoon character.

What about you? Are you on Twitter? If you are, what kinds of things do you Tweet about? If you're not on Twitter, what made you decide not to set up your own account?

By the way, you can check out my Twitter page here.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Selective Truth Telling

I heard through the grapevine that some people from my high school graduating class may be planning a fifteen year reunion. When I heard about it, my initial reaction was, Jeez, I'm getting old. And then I ran to my bathroom mirror to see if I needed to get Botox yet. (I don't need to, but I kind of don't want to anyway; I'm afraid I'll look like the female version of Bruce Jenner.)

I have mixed feelings about going to the reunion. I don't really keep in touch with anyone from high school anymore. On the one hand, it might be nice to see everyone again, and I am curious to see how everyone is doing. I did Google a few of them years ago, and I found out that at least two classmates married each other, one of them became a farmer, and another person may or may not have gotten arrested (though that may just be someone who has the exact same name as my former classmate and happens to live in the same town).

I'm not on Facebook, which would probably be a more reliable source of information. I have little interest in joining Facebook, partly because I'm not photogenic; I would probably just post pictures of food, my favorite books or authors, and stuff like Buckingham Fountain, the lake, and independent bookstores. I'd also post pictures of my loud neighbors (with their faces blurred) when they're drunk and passed out in the hallway (I have found more than one of them using the hallway as a bed and/or as a place to throw up) and captions that say stuff like, "This is your brain on drugs." (Incidentally, the last time I saw my classmates was at a wedding several years ago, where several of them got very drunk AND loud.)

I don't know if I want to go back though. There were at least one or two other reunions before this upcoming one, and I didn't go to those either. I figure that at a reunion, everyone will be reminiscing and saying, "Do you remember when..." I also figure that everyone will remember all the embarrassing things that I did. Then they'll have a lot of laughs at my expense, just like they did all the time when we were teenagers.

If I did go back, I think I'd probably engage in what some people call "lying" but what I call "selective truth telling". Here are a few examples:

I live in a really great apartment in Chicago. There's a lot of space and I get along really well with my neighbors.
The truth: I live in a tiny studio in a building with neighbors who may or may not have sold their souls for beer.

I'm not married, but I am dating. I've dated several amazing guys that I'm still friends with.
The truth: I'm married to my work. I've dated a guy who flirted with the waitress right in front of me, a guy who turned out to be at least thirty or forty pounds heavier than he looked in his profile pictures, a guy who insulted me for working in retail, and a guy who told me that I reminded him of his ex-girlfriend, the one who he still had nightmares about. And those are just SOME of the guys who are on my NEVER DATE AGAIN list. If I ever saw any of those guys on the street, I'd buy a Chicago hot dog (or better yet, a nice, big, greasy piece of Chicago-style pizza) that I could then throw at them.

It's so great to see you! We should totally keep in touch from now on. 
The truth: I'm still mad at you for making me cry/mocking me/excluding me/believing the lies your manipulative boyfriend told you about me back in high school, and you'd better run fast before I start throwing pizza and hot dogs.

My career is going really well. I make a lot of money, and I'm like those teachers in those inspirational teacher movies.
Truth: I have to work additional jobs just to make ends meet, like retail jobs where I get bossed around by twenty-two-year-old supervisors on power trips. I also have finally inspired my students to stop texting during class, partly because I turn into the neurotic, female version of Mr. Hyde when I catch them taking out their cell phones.

I've changed a lot since high school, and I live a different life now. But there's a part of me that's afraid that if I go back I'll become the person I was before. I'm afraid that they'll judge me for still being in school, even though it is graduate school. I'm also afraid that I might head butt one or more of the people who bullied me, especially if they start up again. I really wish I could be like this girl in what I think is the coolest film preview ever. Then no one would DARE mess with me at the reunion:

Maybe they've changed too, at least some of them. Maybe it wouldn't be like when we were teenagers. Or maybe not. 

I don't really want to go. Like I said, I don't keep in touch with anyone from high school anymore, so I'm not really motivated to go back. And anyway, it hasn't quite been fifteen years yet, so I still have time to make up my mind.

What about you? Did you go to your high school reunion? If there hasn't been a reunion for your class yet, do you think that you will go if there is one?

Monday, October 7, 2013

When (Almost) Everything Goes Wrong

The past couple weeks have been very difficult for me, and it seems like one bad thing kept happening after another. Here are some examples:

1. I haven't been sleeping very well lately, partly because I've been stressed out over my dissertation and partly because my new neighbor is very enthusiastic about her dates (and yes, I said "dates", because I've seen her come in and out of the building with different ones). She's so enthusiastic that I initially thought she kept watching a documentary on orangutans on Animal Planet. I was tempted to slip a note under her door or perhaps put a big sign on my window where she can see it, one that says, "THE WHOLE BUILDING CAN HEAR WHAT YOU'RE DOING."

2. One of my fellow graduate students recently won a prestigious award for her work. I can't help feeling jealous every time I hear about one of my classmates' accomplishments. I confided to this student about my struggles with my work on a couple occasions; she responded by emphasizing the fact that she was doing really well or that her professors had praised her work.

3. For every class I teach, there's always at least one or two students who are perpetually tardy or absent. One student waltzed in more than half an hour late. She is full of excuses. When I confronted her after class, she said, "I'll try not to be more than fifteen minutes late next time."

4. I gave up the chance to go to a one-night writing class at StoryStudio in order to stay home and do research for my dissertation. I spent hours making a list of books that I needed to check out of the library at my school. But it wasn't until after I got to campus the next day that I realized I left the list at home.

5. One of the other members on my dissertation committee read the draft that I spent all summer working on. I'd like to say that he had nothing but positive feedback on what I wrote and that I didn't feel like drowning my sorrows in M&Ms after I read his comments. I'd also like to say that I didn't run out of cereal and ate ice cream for breakfast instead. But then I'd just be lying.

6. Three guys "winked" at me in one day, which I was flattered by, until I read their profiles. One guy was thirty years older than me. Another guy wrote that he was looking for "discreet fun" (which may explain why he didn't put any pictures of himself in his profile). Another guy looked like he was at least seventy pounds overweight, though he was arrogant enough to describe himself as athletic and toned, and he wrote that he did not want to date any "heavy women".

7. A fourth guy also contacted me that day, though at least he wrote an e-mail. But his pictures in his profile looked familiar, so I went through all the e-mails I'd received and realized that he'd already sent me the exact same e-mail two months before, word for word. I think he must send the exact same e-mail to all the women he contacts on

8. And the award for the creepiest e-mail I've ever received goes to the loser on plentyoffish who offered to be my "financial benefactor" and to send me money. I never said ANYTHING about money in my profile. I think he either was trying to "hire" me for you-know-what or he sees himself as some kind of gross sugar daddy. I was furious that he may or may not have thought I was a prostitute or a sugar baby. I blocked him from contacting me again and immediately reported him to the site, though I really wanted to whap his face with my laptop.

9. A woman on the bus cursed at me in front of everyone else, because I accidentally caused her to miss her stop. I didn't move out of the way fast enough when she was trying to get off the bus through the back door (I tried to move out of the way, but the bus was too crowded), and the bus driver ignored her calls to stop. So she screamed at him and me.

10. Every time my parents call (and they insist on calling several times a week) they either ask when I'm going to be done with my dissertation or they tell me what I should do when I finish my dissertation. They've already decided which schools I should apply to, where I should live, and what kind of car I should get. There are several schools in the Chicago area, but they are pressuring me to leave Chicago. They've been pressuring me to leave the city that I love for years. I know that eventually I may end up in a college town, depending on where I get hired, but ultimately, where I live and teach is going to be my decision. For years, I've been trying to make my parents see that I have the right to live my life on my terms.

11. During a class discussion one day, the majority of the students actively participated the whole time, which was rare. They talked about the characters in the book we were studying as if the characters were real people. They said stuff like, "I am so mad at that character right now! I can't believe he did that!" I could tell that the book really affected them, and they said it was because they really liked it and they thought the author was really good. They wanted to know what else the author had written, and I saw several of the students write down the titles I gave them.

That was one of those rare days that made me remember why I've kept teaching all these years. I love it when the students get excited about what they're reading or writing. They were inspired by what they read in the book, and that inspired me.

Even though it seems like everything else in my life is going wrong right now (and I can't help but blame myself for most of what's happening, except for the jerks on those dating sites), that day in the classroom made me feel like I'm doing at least one thing right.

What about you? Do you ever go through those times where it feels like everything's going wrong? What makes you feel better?

Monday, September 23, 2013

I Give Up...For Now

If there was ever a reason to cancel my plentyoffish membership, it's this one: I was recently contacted by a guy who described his occupation as "Ass Sniffer".

I immediately thought of my parents' dogs, Neurotic Jr. and Jane Dog, who greet other dogs by sniffing their butts. Was that guy trying to say that he acts like a dog? Does he also drink out of the toilet and like tummy rubs?

I suppose it could have been worse. He could have described himself as a "Boob Grabber".

I'm embarrassed to admit that I only got to go on one date this time around on On the other hand, I've already described eight other guys on this blog: I met two of them on okcupid, two on eharmony, and four on Then there are all the other guys I went out with that I met on online dating sites before I started blogging. I'm not going to say how many I've gone out with, because it's more than I thought I would have to go out with.

I'll also admit that I haven't really been active on either site these last couple of months. I've just been so wrapped up in my dissertation that I haven't had time. It is time consuming to read through all those profiles and send out e-mails (I don't send winks anymore. If I were to meet a guy in real life, I'd strike up a conversation with him, not wink at him. Also, I don't like to wink because I'm afraid that my contact lens will fall out.).

I really do want to meet someone special. I want to get married and have a family. It doesn't help that almost every time my mother calls, she either asks if I'm dating anyone or she tells me that someone younger than me is getting married.

I want to meet someone whose personality is kind of like Harry's in the film When Harry Met Sally. I always liked that in addition to being in love with each other, they were also best friends. And they were perfect for each other, because they were equally neurotic. If I could fall in love with a guy who could be my neurotic best friend AND my boyfriend, life would be good. (It'd also be nice if he looked and danced like Channing Tatum did in the film Magic Mike, but that's not necessarily a requirement.)

I know someone who thinks that Mr. Right will just show up one day. She's still waiting. I thought it was better to put myself out there. I still remember how each time I went on another date, I felt a mixture of nervousness and hope.

But I DON'T want to keep sending e-mails to guys who aren't interested, or to receive one or two e-mails from a guy before he pulls a disappearing act. Every time I got rejected, it made me feel like there was something wrong with me. I thought I wasn't thin enough, pretty enough, or interesting enough. It made me remember what it was like to be a wallflower in high school. I hated it. I know that everyone gets rejected, but when you get rejected over and over again, it can be very disheartening.

I DON'T want to read any more profiles of men who only want to date women who are decades younger than them, but who don't want to date women who are their age or are two years older. Apparently their enormous egos prevent them from realizing that most women in their teens and twenties prefer to date guys their own age. Unless I start lying about my age or get plastic surgery (which will never happen, because if I could afford plastic surgery, I'd spend the money on books, coffee, and Kick Me signs instead), it may get even more difficult for me to find someone as I get older. But I don't want to be with someone who likes me just because I'm fifteen years younger.

I don't regret joining any of those online dating sites. I got to meet new people and go on dates. I learned what I want and what I don't want. I gained enough courage to put myself out there, which is something I was too afraid to do for a long time. I also got enough material for at least two novels.

Now I'll have more time to write fiction. I had to set my manuscripts aside for almost the entire summer in order to work on my dissertation, which is why I turned into the Neurotic Hulk. I'll also have more time for the other things that make me happy, like taking fiction writing classes, reading, visiting museums, watching TV crime dramas, attending plays, and teaching. And, of course, I'll have more time for my dissertation.

I'm not saying I'll never put myself out there ever again. My membership expires in November, so I'll keep it until then. I might even send out a few e-mails to guys whose profiles don't creep me out or who make me want to join a convent. But I'm not going to be as active on either site as I was before.

What do you think? Do you think it's better to keep putting yourself out there, or do you think it's better to leave it up to fate?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Turning into Our Parents

Every once in a while, I think I can hear my mother's voice when I talk. It makes me wonder what I'll be like when I'm her age. I recently read about a survey that said that we start turning into our parents when we turn thirty-two, which is how old I am now. It also makes me reflect on some of the advice that my parents gave me as I grew up.

If you keep scowling like that, your face is going to stay that way. 
I scowl like that a lot, especially when my neighbors decide to have a party on the sidewalk in front of our building and leave red cups all over the grass, or when I accidentally flip the channel to an episode of Storage Wars, or when someone tells me that I should stop drinking Coke (they should probably wait to say that until AFTER my caffeine high ends and after I stop bouncing off the walls).  And yet my face hasn't stayed "that way" permanently, and I can still make other facial expressions, like when I look at my students disapprovingly for coming in to class thirty minutes late, or when my face lights up at the sight of a Coca-Cola delivery truck.

Don't stay up too late. You're not a vampire.
When I was a kid, I thought it would be cool to stay up as late as I wanted. But now that I'm an adult, I find myself falling asleep before midnight. It's partly because I automatically wake up early almost every morning, since I'm still used to getting up for 8 AM shifts for my retail jobs or early classes that I have to teach. Now when I wake up at 3 AM because my neighbors are having another one of their "Who needs sleep when we can get drunk?" parties, I'm the one telling them to be quiet and go to bed. (Except I don't exactly use those words when I'm yelling from my window.)

You should spend less time reading novels and more time studying your textbooks.
When I was a kid, I used to hide under my covers or in my closet and read novels with a flashlight. I was an A student, so I figured that I earned the right to read fiction for fun. Reading gave me the chance to escape to different worlds and meet new people. When I read those books, I could forget about all the kids who made fun of me at school, the pressure to excel in all my classes, and the fact that I was overweight, wore thick glasses, and had hair that looked like I should have been in one of those "before" pictures for a shampoo ad. Reading made me happy in a way that few other things did, and I never gave it up. (And I never will.)

You can never be too careful.
Recently I had a "disagreement" with some of my neighbors. Apparently they think it's too much effort to reach into their pockets, take out their key to the front door of the building, and unlock it. So they leave it propped open. I tried to close it, and I told them that it was because I didn't want to let strangers in. They insisted on leaving it open, though, and I figured that if I went all Karate Kid on them, I'd probably get arrested. I know that real life isn't exactly like an episode of Criminal Minds or CSI, but I've encountered (and been harassed and robbed by) more than one scary creep since I moved to Chicago. I'd just feel a lot safer knowing that the door was kept locked and the scary people are kept out. The only time I let people I don't know into the building is if they're delivering mail or pizza (because anyone who delivers pizza is okay in my book).

Even though I can now understand why my parents gave me that advice, I don't think I'll ever be completely like them. The fact that I chose to live in Chicago, pursue teaching and writing, and that I still scowl on a regular basis is proof that I have grown up to be someone very different from them.

I don't think it's a bad thing to become similar to your parents, though I know a lot of people worry about that. What do you think? Do you ever feel like you're turning into your parents, or have you tried to distinguish yourself from them?

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Evaluation

Recently I showed a draft of a chapter I've been working on for my dissertation to my advisor. I've been working on it all summer. I gave up many beautiful days outside to study, write, and read scholarly books and articles that may as well be titled "I'm smarter than you, and here are all the footnotes and academic jargon to prove it" or "Even though this author MAY have only meant to tell a love story, I think this story is REALLY about Marxism/neoliberalism/capitalism/feminism/racism" or "How to Over-analyze a Novel in 50,000 Words or Less".

I really thought that this draft was a significant improvement over the previous drafts I wrote. I made a list of all the feedback I'd gotten from my committee, and I tried to incorporate that into this chapter. I tried to develop a stronger core argument. When I showed the draft to my advisor, I hoped that for the first time he would give me even just a little positive feedback. Even just one line of encouragement, like "I can see that you've put a lot of time and effort into this", would have been enough.

That didn't happen. He kept saying, "Okay, BUT...", "But you didn't even do this...", "The problem is..." and "I still don't understand..." I'd mentioned that my original draft was much longer, but that I'd edited it. He said, "Well, maybe you shouldn't have done that; maybe the original draft was better than this one is." He even rolled his eyes at one point.

I felt crushed. I tried to explain my dissertation's argument to him, but he kept saying that my claims weren't clear enough or that I wasn't making any specific claims at all. At first I tried to hold my own by responding to his criticism with my own ideas, but he kept questioning all of them, which made me feel like my ideas weren't as good as I thought they were.

I felt angry and frustrated, which is something that I've been feeling about this whole process for a long time. I looked down at the notebook I was holding, and I realized that I was gripping it so tightly that I almost gave myself paper cuts. I wanted to tell him that he was wrong and that my dissertation wasn't that bad. I wanted to prove to him that all the work I've been doing really did amount to something important. I wanted to scream and scream and scream that I was doing the best I could, damn it, but it was never good enough; it made me feel like I wasn't good enough.

When I talked to graduate students and lecturers about my situation last year, they advised me that at some point I need to stand up for my dissertation if I really believe in it, even if my advisor doesn't agree with it (although of course they didn't say that it's okay to scream at the advisor). But I feel like I can only challenge or defy my advisor to a certain extent. He, as well as the rest of the committee, are the ones who are going to sign off on my dissertation (or not). He has the power to make me leave the graduate program altogether, which is something that I'm terrified of. He's also the one with the PhD and the long list of credentials that I don't have yet. He's already an expert in the field that I'm still starting out in, so it's like fighting with someone who has a black belt in karate and the only thing you've ever been able to do is win a thumb-wrestling fight.

The other grad students and lecturers also told me about their difficulties with their advisors. One or two of them told me that they had to switch dissertation directors because they had so many problems with them (not an option for me, since my dissertation is on a specific topic that my advisor specializes in, unlike most of the other professors in my department). They also didn't always feel like they could stand up to them, because the professors had a lot more authority than they did.

At this point, all I can do (other than track down my professor's address and toilet-paper his yard) is revise my chapter. Again. I'm determined to finish this dissertation. I do NOT want my dream of becoming a professor and to be recognized as a "Dr." to be taken away from me. I don't want to let it go. I will NOT let go, unless they literally make me do it.

What about you? Do you ever feel like you can stand up to the people who have authority over your work? If not, why not? If so, how do you stand up to them?

Here's the video for Katy Perry's new song, "Roar". The video is kind of cheesy, but I like the song, especially the point she makes about how she finds her voice. I can definitely relate to THAT right now.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Don't Be That Friend

Even though I am a loner, I do try to make friends with people who have similar interests to mine, whose company I enjoy, and who don't make me feel like I'm stuck in the movie Mean Girls. For example, once I invited a girl my age to have a picnic in Grant Park. Even though it was a nice day out and the food was good, I still felt like hiding out in my apartment with the shades drawn and the door locked, just so I wouldn't have to listen to that girl talk about the fight she had with her boyfriend. She spent the entire time talking about him.

In college, I was friends with a guy who talked about his girlfriend every single time we saw each other. It didn't matter what conversation we were having; he always found a way to bring her into it.

Me: Do you want to go check out that new music store?
Him: Yeah, that sounds like fun. I think I'm going to buy a new CD for my girlfriend. I haven't bought a gift for her this week. (I'm seriously not making that line up.)

Me: This pizza tastes so good.
Him: You know who else likes pizza? My girlfriend.

Me: Don't you hate it when people are always talking about the same thing? (This was my not-so-subtle hint to him to shut up about his girlfriend.)
Him: I know. My girlfriend doesn't like it either.

I also tried to make friends with a young woman who I liked a lot, until she met her boyfriend. One year, she promised to take me out for dinner for my birthday, but then she didn't respond to my e-mail where I tried to confirm the outing. I spent that birthday eating dinner in front of the TV and waiting for her to call. I later found out that she didn't call because she wanted to keep the night open in case her boyfriend wanted to go out.

Even worse, every time we saw each other after that, she'd have more "good news" about how amazing her boyfriend was and how much in love they were. "Did I tell you about the flowers he sent me? I felt so loved." "We're going to buy his and her towels when we move in together." "He is so handsome. I think he should have been a model instead of a doctor."

I smiled and nodded and looked at their vacation pictures, but what I really wanted to say was, "Good thing the flowers didn't give you an allergic reaction." "In addition to the towels, are you also going to tattoo each other's names on your faces so that everyone knows that you're in a relationship?" "Does he carry a mirror around so that he can admire his good looks all the time?"

I admit, I was a little jealous that those people found happiness with people that they loved, while I was still alone. But it wasn't like I wasn't happy for them too, because I was. I just didn't need to hear about their boyfriends/girlfriends all the time.

Maybe it's harder for me to relate because I'm single. I don't know what it feels like to want to talk about one person all the time, or to want to spend all my time with that person. (If and when I do fall in love, I don't think I'll want to spend all my time with him. I'll need time to myself to work, write, and put banana peels on the ground in front of unsuspecting annoying people.)

I also can get focused on one topic. Most of my blog posts this summer have been about online dating, ever since I joined Not to mention a lot of my other blog posts are about my work, seeing as how work is the love of my life. I'll also admit that in the past, I talked about my various jobs with my friends a LOT. But now I've learned that it's important to write and talk about other things. I've learned that it's important to listen to what other people have to say, and to consider the fact that what I'm obsessed with might not be what they want to hear every single time together. I've learned that if I want to stay friends with someone, I have to show them that I really do value their company, that I don't take them for granted, that I'm sensitive to their feelings, and that they're not just a sounding board for my personal life.

Still, it made me a little sad that those "friendships" didn't work out. It made me blame myself a little; maybe the fact that I'm a loner or the fact that I'm a neurotic workaholic keeps me from connecting with people. It also made me value my own company more, because at least I don't make myself want to hide in my apartment with the door locked and the shades drawn.

What about you? Do you have friends who go on and on about their boyfriends, girlfriends, or spouses? If so, how do you deal with it? Do you ever get to a point where you can tell them that you don't mind hearing about their love lives occasionally, but you don't want to hear about them all the time?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Act Like an Adult

At a wedding I attended a few years ago, a female friend of my parents turned to me as soon as the ceremony ended and asked, "So, when are you going to get married?"

The kid in me wanted to say, "I don't know. When are you going to get your mustache waxed?"

But as an adult, I said something vague, like, "I just haven't met the right guy yet."

Even though I'm thirty-two, I don't always feel like an adult. Maybe it's because I still carry a bookbag instead of a briefcase. Actually, when I first started teaching, I bought a briefcase, but it was hard to carry it because of all the heavy textbooks I used in my classes.

Maybe it's because I'm still buying school supplies, like notebooks, pens, and candy to throw at the loud students in the library.

I have long hair, and it grows pretty fast. So I have to get it cut every six weeks. But I haven't gotten a haircut in three months because I spent the money at Starbucks. 

My iPod playlist also resembles that of a teenage girl, because it includes songs by Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Britney Spears, and One Direction. What? Their songs are catchy and fun to work out to! Have you ever tried to work out to classical music? I'd probably fall asleep on the treadmill!

Side note: Please don't stop following my blog because of my taste in music. I'd promise to never post a video by one of my favorite musicians, but then I'd just be lying.

Even though I'm thirty-two, I still don't know how to put on makeup. Every time I go to Macy's, I try to get up the courage to approach one of those cosmetics salespeople and ask them for tips. But they all look so polished and fashionable that I end up walking right past them every time. I tried watching a few of those Youtube videos on how to apply makeup, but I got depressed because the girls in those videos all had better hair than mine.

Every time I go to a cafe, there are always at least two or three people who think that their laptop bags need their own separate table. As an adult, I either ask them politely to move their bags so that I can sit down, or I find another table. But the kid in me wants to fling their bags across the cafe and yell, "How do you like me NOW?"

When I walk around outside, I can't help admiring the pretty dresses and high heels that women my age wear. I keep thinking that I should stop wearing jeans, T-shirts, and sneakers all the time and dress like a woman in her thirties. Maybe then when I go to the nail salon and ask for a pedicure, the ladies won't stop and ask, "Wait, are you over eighteen?" I do dress up when I teach, but that still doesn't stop some of the students from saying on the first day of class, "Wait, are you the teacher? We thought you were one of us." (On the other hand, I think that once I get older, I'll want people to think I'm younger.)

I've been watching a lot of Youtube videos where people show off the ways that they decorated their homes; my favorites are the ones posted by House and Home and Spaces. Even though I've lived in my own apartment for more than ten years, I still have pictures up on the wall that I decorated my high school locker with. (But at least I finally threw away those Backstreet Boys posters.)

Being an adult is sometimes more difficult than I thought it would be when I was younger. It means that if I mess up, I have to take responsibility for it. It means that if someone hurts my feelings (like when my dissertation committee tears apart my drafts, which is what I'm afraid is going to happen when they read my latest draft), I can't hide in bed and cry; I have to let it go and move on. It means that I can't always do whatever I want, because I'll have to deal with the consequences.

On the other hand, I do like some of the perks of adulthood. I like that I don't have to eat my vegetables unless I want to. I like that I can stay out as late as I want (even though I usually fall asleep before midnight). I like that I don't have to hide my copies of Cosmopolitan anymore (my father still tries to make me cover my eyes every time there's a kissing scene on TV). I like that I can live on my own, pay my own bills, and make my own decisions.

Also, even though some of my students initially think that I'm younger, once they start missing class regularly, sleeping or texting during lectures, or making up excuses for why their work was turned in late (or not at all), I definitely feel old.

What about you? What do you like/dislike about adulthood? What makes you feel like you're still a kid? What makes you wish that you were still a kid? 

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Problem with Flirting

My membership expired a couple days ago. I decided not to renew it, especially because I've begun to think of this online dating site as "Middle-Aged Men and the Young Women They Lust After" and "Men Who Want Girls Who Don't Eat". (I just read a profile where the guy wrote, "I'm looking for a girl who's in shape, not a girl who's a shape." I mean, really?)

I'm disappointed and embarrassed that I only got to go on one date this time around. It made me think that maybe there was something wrong with me, or that maybe I was just very unattractive.

On the other hand, I haven't really e-mailed anyone in a couple of weeks; I don't feel as hopeful about it as I did when I first signed up. I also haven't logged on to plentyoffish in more than a month, partly because under "occupation", one guy wrote "Hi people"; b) I am apparently very appealing to men with multiple children and ex-wives; c) more than one guy wrote in his profile that he wanted to give his dates lots of massages (and I don't even like to hold hands!).

When I went to cancel my membership, I received an offer: "3 months for the price of 1". Despite my failure with both match and plentyoffish, I thought about joining, which is one of the few dating sites I haven't tried. But on the other hand, I would have to pay almost three times the amount that was offering me for the same amount of time on zoosk. I could have tried eharmony again, but it would have cost more than a hundred dollars to see a bunch of profiles with no pictures. (I'm not completely superficial, but I do want to see at least one picture of the guy before the date. I just want to Google him to make sure he's not on America's Most Wanted. Just kidding. Sort of.)

I also could have tried okcupid again, which is free, but I was afraid I'd get more e-mails from married guys (whose wives were also on the site) or from guys who insulted me because I didn't want to hook up with them...and their friends.

I always thought that I'd meet someone the old-fashioned way, by chance when I was out pursuing my own interests, working, or just running errands. But my interests include going to neighborhood festivals like Northalsted Market Days, which is in Lakeview (otherwise known as Boystown). I think of that festival as "The day that I walk around eating funnel cake while staring wistfully at all the muscular gay guys dancing in colorful underwear." (And they're all so friendly, polite, and nice, darn it!)

The chances of my meeting someone at work are fairly slim, since I'm an English teacher and a grad student. Most of the other grad students and teachers are a) female; b) in a relationship; c) gay; d) single, male, straight, and only have eyes for women like Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, or Mary Shelley.

Even though a lot of the guys on claim that they're tired of the bar scene, I know that most of the guys are actually at the bars and clubs. But seeing as how I don't drink alcohol and most of my friends are too busy changing diapers or working sixty-hour weeks to go clubbing, I don't get to go to those places very often. Anyway, every time I do go to a bar, I keep yelling, "WHAT?" the whole time. I also keep thinking, I could order two twelve-packs of Coke for the price of this one cocktail.

Every once in a blue moon, a cute guy does flirt with me, but seeing as how I literally am a nonflirt, I'm usually clueless and oblivious when it happens. For example, when I went to another festival, I bought a chocolate covered strawberry. The guy who sold it to me said, "I'm going to give you one of the big ones, because you're cute." I merely said, "Thanks," because what I was really interested in was the strawberry.

When I went to one of the cafes where I'm a regular, one of the male baristas kept complimenting me and trying to chat me up. But I was too focused on the manuscript I was working on, the coffee I was drinking, and the person who loved Justin Bieber so much that she blasted it from her iPhone (I thought about pouring my coffee on her iPhone, but that would have been a waste of coffee.)

I usually don't even realize that a guy is flirting with me (or in one case, that a guy just asked me out) until he's given up and walked away. Partly it's because I get harassed by random creepy guys on the street on a regular basis. I've learned to keep my head down, my eyes averted, and my mouth shut. So when a cute and friendly guy tries to strike up a conversation with me, I immediately clam up. On the other hand, it's also because I really am very shy and don't know how to react, because I automatically think that he's only talking to me because he's a) drunk; b) trying to make his ex-girlfriend jealous; c) trying to convince me to join his cult. (And yes, all three things have happened before.)

When I'm online, it's easier. You have to be more straightforward online, by sending a "wink" or an e-mail (I always send e-mails). It's much easier to say hi to a cute guy online than to just walk up to one in person. You can figure out what you want to say beforehand and rewrite it if it doesn't sound right, unlike in real life. If someone you don't like tries to contact you, all you have to do is block him.

So I decided to renew my membership with for three more months. I'm also thinking of going to one of's singles events, such as one of their speed-dating parties. If that doesn't work, then maybe I'll try zoosk, or maybe I'll rejoin okcupid. I want to keep trying, at least for now. But if online dating really doesn't work out (I can't keep doing it forever, or rather, I can't keep reading profiles written by arrogant, age-obsessed jerks for that much longer), then I'm going to have to turn off my computer and venture out into the "real world" to meet someone, rather than wait until we've exchanged several e-mails before we meet in person.

What do you think? Is it easier for you to meet people (whether it's significant others or friends) online or in person?

Monday, August 12, 2013

What I Hope for

1. The day that I can open a magazine, read a newspaper, or turn on the TV and not read or hear a single word about the royal family. Seriously, I thought that the Americans declared their independence from the British more than two hundred years ago. So why are we so concerned with every move that William and Kate make? (No offense to the British or the royal family, though.) But unless the new royal baby turns out to be the real-life version of Harry Potter or James Bond, I don't really see what the big deal is.

2. Meeting a great guy who loves coffee, TV crime dramas, and judging annoying people as much as I do. It'd also be perfect if he DOESN'T want to date a girl who's young enough to be his daughter or his granddaughter. What is WRONG with these old guys? And what is it about me that makes me so appealing to seventy-year-old men?

3. Finishing my dissertation and then tossing it in the air like Mary Tyler Moore did with her hat in her TV show, or possibly setting it on fire because by the time I finish it I won't even want to look at the cursed thing anymore.

4. Completing my PhD and being done with grad school, so that I won't have to listen to the other grad students brag about their academic publications and conference presentations. Then I can go teach at a different school and listen to the other professors brag about their academic publications and conference presentations.

5. Finding out that those rate your professor websites where students bash their teachers online because they are angry about getting B-pluses or for being penalized for missing class twelve times in a row have shut down and can never be restarted.

6. Writing and publishing novels that people can relate to and that make them laugh out loud.

7. A life where I don't have to work two or three jobs at the same time just so that I'll have enough money to pay rent and buy staples, like milk and M&Ms. (I am and always will be a workaholic, but even I need some time off to relax, watch crime dramas, and track down the loser neighbor who's been stealing my magazines so that I can give her number to every telemarketer in the country.)

8. A family of my own, where I can be the mother to one or two little neurotic workaholics, who also obsess over the people who cut in front of them in line.

9. The time and the money to go to other countries, like Spain, England, and Ireland, so that I can visit the places where my favorite authors grew up, traveled to, and wrote.

10. Students who will never EVER complain about their grades, who will ALWAYS show up on time, who will never miss class, and who will come up to me one day and say, "You're right. Cell phones suck! I'm going to get rid of my cell phone and use all the money that I would've spent on my cell phone bill and apps to buy books. I'm also going to stop watching reality shows so that they'll all be cancelled. Then we will never have to see drunken hookups, catfights between people who are allegedly adults, or fake crying ever again."

Here's hoping....

What about you? What kinds of things do you hope for, or what kinds of things do you look forward to?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Savoring Summer

When I was younger, I liked those back to school commercials that advertised school supplies. I loved picking out brand new notebooks and pens for the classes I was going to take. But now that I'm a teacher, I don't feel that same sense of excitement when I see those commercials.

Don't get me wrong. I love teaching. Being in the classroom and interacting with the students are the best parts of teaching. Sometimes, students come up to me and tell me they loved one of the authors we studied so much that they started reading other books by that author on their own. That makes me feel like I just found out that I am the sole heir to the Coca-Cola Company. When I see the improvement in their writing over the course of the term, I get a great sense of satisfaction in knowing that they've learned something from me. When students get excited about what they're writing, it makes me feel happy and proud.

But on the other hand, I can't help dreading the prospect of grading dozens of papers on the same topic. I think of the students who not only complain about their grades but demand that I change them. I feel angry when I think of their parents, who send me nasty e-mails, ordering me to change their children's grades or not penalize them for being absent several weeks in a row (yes, this has happened several times. It bothers me that they want to be treated like adults but then run to their parents to fix their problems for them.).

One of these days I'm going to invent a device that will make all the students' cell phones automatically shut down as soon as they enter my classroom, so that they'll never text in my class again. (Of course, the students will react by shrieking, "I've just lost the love of my life! What am I going to DO?") I get stressed out when I think of all the excuses I'm going to hear from students who miss class again and again and again but still expect (or demand) A's.

I also think of my dissertation committee rejecting or tearing apart the chapter I've been working on. I've done so much writing and research that sometimes when I read fellow bloggers' posts, I automatically think, Wait. Where are all the footnotes? I'm afraid that my committee will tell me that what I've written is still not good enough and that I'm not smart enough to be in grad school.

Even though I have been studying and working all summer, for the first time in a long time I've given myself a chance to enjoy myself as well. (I was going to say that I've given myself a chance to "relax", but it's about as difficult for me to relax as it is for one of those "Bachelors" or "Bachelorettes" to keep a straight face when they claim that the only reason they're on TV is to find "true love".)

For example, a couple weeks ago I went to the Chinatown summer festival. It felt so good to be outside on a beautiful day. I ate delicious egg rolls, fried rice, and almond cookies. I even bought a couple souvenirs, including a pretty beaded bracelet that only cost three dollars and a small painting that unfolded like a scroll (it only cost $2.99!) to hang in my apartment. I saw people doing Tai Chi, and I watched the Lion Dance.

There was also a Chinese woman who was holding several sticks of incense, and she gave me one as I passed by. I couldn't understand what she said, but I saw other sticks of incense that had been placed in a container of sand in front of a small statue of Buddha. So I put the stick that she gave me in the sand. I also saw a small donation box, so I dropped some spare change in it. She and some other Chinese ladies thanked me and gave me a piece of cake. It wasn't until I walked away that I realized that even though I'm Catholic, I may have just made an offering to Buddha and a Buddhist temple.

In addition to the Chinatown summer festival, I also went to the Taste of Chicago in Grant Park, where restaurant vendors from all over the city set up stands and sold great food. I read several chick lit novels, and it was a relief to read stuff that wasn't written by people who think that using words that are only used in spelling bees makes them sound smarter. I went to movies with friends. I took walks around my neighborhood, and I wrote down in my journal all the funny, weird, and interesting things that I saw and heard. I also plan to visit the Art Institute on one of their free admission days; either that or I'd like to go to one of the movies featured in the Grant Park Film Festival (you can bring a beach towel to Grant Park and watch a movie for free on a large screen). I'm also interested in watching a free show that I heard about where a dance company is going to perform.

During the school year I'm always working. But during the summer I feel like I have more freedom to do other things that I want to do, and it feels good. I just wish that it didn't have to end, but it won't be long before school starts again.

I really need to work on that anti-cell phone device. I plan to use it on the people who talk on their phones in the movie theaters too, and then I'll point and laugh maniacally when they start freaking out.

What about you? What have been the best parts of your summer? When you were a student, did you look forward to going back to school? If you're a teacher, how do you feel about summer vacation?

Monday, July 29, 2013

I Can Take a Hint

Yesterday I received a brief e-mail from the guy I met on He wrote that he "didn't think we were a great match."

Maybe I shouldn't have written back, but I did. I didn't write, "Oh yeah? Well, at least I don't walk AND talk like a robot!" Instead, I wrote that I already knew we weren't a good match since it had been a week since our date and I hadn't heard from him. I also added that he didn't need to e-mail me.

On, people can send "rejection" e-mails to people that they're not interested in. I've received a few myself, and I must admit that I've sent a few to guys who kept winking at me and e-mailing me even after I didn't respond the first time. will write the rejection for you; that is, you can choose responses like, "I just don't think we're a good match," (sounds like that guy plagiarized, but I'm just SAYING) or "I've met someone else and I want to see how it goes." But I've never received a rejection e-mail after I already went on a date with the guy.

I'm not sure why he felt the need to e-mail me in the first place. As I mentioned in my last post, he left a message soon after our date to let me know that he had fun. Based on my past experience, if a guy contacts me right after the date, that means he wants to see me again. So the next day I texted him to say hi, and I suggested that we meet again if he had any more free time. He said he'd let me know, which to me felt like the kiss of death.

I didn't hear from him again after that. Did he think that I spent all week waiting by the phone for him to call? Did I continue to e-mail, text, and call him incessantly? Did I send him pictures of myself in different wedding gowns with a note that said, "Which one do you like best?" Did I send him a copy of the movie Fatal Attraction with a note that said, "This film is so inspiring"? Did I e-mail him to say, "I just happened to be outside your apartment with binoculars last night, and I saw you through the window. Did you get your hair cut?" NO! I didn't do any of those things.

Since he never asked me out again, and since I didn't hear from him all week, I figured that was a not-so-subtle hint that he wasn't interested. I was disappointed, but I wasn't heartbroken. To be honest, during the date I didn't feel that thing you're supposed to feel when you make a connection with someone. On the other hand, I was willing to give him another chance to see if anything more were to develop. He wasn't willing to give me another chance, though, so within a few days of our date, I was back on to see who else was out there. And he would've been able to see when I was online.

I thought he was a nice guy, and I thought the date was nice, too. But now when I look back on this what I'll remember is that last e-mail, and that just ruins it all for me.

(Side note: The guy's name also happens to be the same name as my main character's love interest in one of my manuscripts, though I named that character long before I met that guy. I was tempted to change the name, but I'm not going to let him ruin the character for me too.)

What do you think? Do you think it's necessary to let someone know you're not interested after you've gone on a date? If you do, how have you done it? (I'm curious about this for future reference, in case I ever end up going out with someone who can't take a hint.)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Dating in Your Thirties

I recently went on a coffee date with a guy from To say that I was nervous about it would be an understatement. When I get really stressed or nervous, I break out into a rash. I was freaking out, thinking that I would have to say to my date, "Want to play connect the red dots on my arms?"

Fortunately, my skin (mostly) cleared up by the time we met for coffee. We talked for a long time. He was definitely nicer than a lot of the other guys I've gone out with, because he a) didn't insult me; b) didn't make up an excuse to leave early; c) didn't flirt with the waitress or keep checking out other girls; d) didn't watch TV while we were talking (this did actually happen on a date with a guy I met a couple years ago; we met in a bar and he kept watching the game on the TVs during our conversation. I felt like asking him, "Do you want me to leave so that you and the Bulls can have some alone time?").

He was pretty easy to talk to, and it seemed like we had a lot in common. There were, however, a few awkward pauses in the conversation, so I kept asking him questions and tried not to talk about work too much. (It's hard not to, though, seeing as how I think about work 95% of the time. The rest of the time I usually just think about books or food. Mostly food.)

There were a few times where guys I met through online dating sites mentioned their previous experiences with the sites, and we laughed about the funny profiles/e-mails we'd read. But this guy actually talked about other women that he'd dated, and he brought up the topic more than once. I've read in more than one article that you should NEVER talk about your exes on the first date, partly because you end up revealing more about yourself than about your exes. But what was I supposed to say? "Do you wish you were out with one of your other dates right now? Because I'm wondering why you're even thinking about them when you're with me."

I received a message from him soon after the date, but he didn't ask me out again. And in that sense, he was like several of the other guys I've dated. I couldn't help wondering how many more first dates I was going to have to go on before I met the right guy, or if I would ever find him.

In my opinion, dating in your thirties is more difficult and complicated than dating in your teens or twenties. When I was younger, I thought I had all the time in the world to find someone. In high school, if I had a crush on someone, I didn't really think about the future. I thought about how cute, funny and nice he was and how it would be cool if we got to go to a school dance together. When I was in my twenties, I thought more about long-term relationships, but I still had a more casual attitude about it. That is, I thought that if it were to lead to something more, great! If not, there were other guys out there.

But now that I'm in my thirties, I can't help viewing dates differently. For example, when I look at a guy's profile, I always check to see if he specifies whether or not he's looking for a serious relationship or if he wants kids someday (on you can write "someday, undecided, definitely, no" in the "wants kids" section). If he isn't looking for any kind of a commitment (and many of the guys on make it clear that they aren't) or if he doesn't want kids, I immediately go on to the next profile.

On the other hand, for some reason a lot of the guys on have several children, as in three or four. I'm not opposed to dating a single dad, but I don't think I'm prepared to date someone with a big family, at least not yet. 

When I go on dates, I don't just think, "Is he going to call? Will I ever see him again?" I also think, "Can I actually see myself with this person? Does he have the same values and beliefs as me? Does he want the same things I do? Is he someone I could introduce to my parents?" (Unfortunately, with almost all the guys that I've met through online dating, the answer is always no.) 

I feel like now that I'm in my thirties, I'm running out of time. I know that a lot of people get married and have children when they're older, but I'm afraid that I won't be able to have children by the time I actually get married, if that ever happens. I could try adoption, but that's not a sure thing and it could take years. Not to mention most of the guys my age have wives or girlfriends, and the ones who are single are usually looking for someone a lot younger, not someone who's closer to their own age.

I've tried not one, not two, but FIVE online dating sites. I've tried blind dates and speed dating. I participated in social events at my church. There were a couple guys who asked me out at my various part-time jobs, but they were significantly younger, which was an issue for me. I don't want to still be going on first dates ten years from now, or even five years from now. I've already been on too many first dates as it is (way more than I thought I would have to go on when I was in my teens and twenties), and I keep ending up disappointed. I don't want to feel that way anymore.

They say that there's one right person out there for each person, but maybe that isn't entirely true. Maybe some people get to fall in love, get married, and have children, and others don't. Maybe one of the reasons I'm such a workaholic is because it'll pay off in the end, and I might get what I want from my work, if not from someone who may not even exist. Maybe the reason I haven't been able to make it work with any of the guys I've gone out with so far is because it wasn't supposed to work with anyone. I might not ever be a wife or a mother, but I could spend the rest of my life as a teacher and a writer. And maybe that's not such a bad thing, seeing as how I do love teaching and writing. I think that I'm pretty good at teaching and writing (though I still have a lot to learn), yet I keep failing at dating.

What about you? Do you think that dating in your thirties is different from dating in your twenties or teens? How do you feel about first dates?

Here's a funny video that compares women in their twenties to women in their thirties (I'm definitely like the thirtysomething women in this video, except substitute the club and the bar they go to with Barnes & Noble and Target.)

Monday, July 15, 2013

I Wish I Had More Time For...

Twitter. I've written before about how I'm tempted to set up a Twitter page, but I'm afraid that if I do, I'll be one of those annoying people who never looks up from her cell phone and ends up accidentally knocking people over like dominoes every time she goes out.

But I'm thinking that if I get enough work done on my dissertation this summer, maybe I will start Tweeting. Then I can Tweet weird things I've been hearing people say on their cell phones, like, "I don't want you to see my new face until the swelling goes down," (I really did hear this) and "I don't see why he's so mad at me. It's not like he can't wash out the vomit on his couch." (I'm not making that one up either.)

Studying. I feel guilty because I haven't gotten as much work done on my dissertation this summer as I wanted to. But that was partly because a) my website job took up a lot of time; b) I had to block guys who kept winking at me on, like the 75-year old man who wrote in his profile that he only wants to date women in their twenties, thirties and forties (THAT alone is enough to make me want to quit online dating); c) for some reason it seems like food tastes better in the summer, which means I have to spend a lot more time at the gym; d) summer is the one time of year where I don't have to wear five layers of clothes, so I want to spend as much time outside as possible. It's much easier to stay inside and work when it's freezing outside. On the other hand, summer means all the tourists are in Chicago, which means I often end up getting stuck behind a bunch of "slow walkers" and I have to resist the urge to knock them over like dominoes.

But on the other hand, I know that I've been wasting time by reading weird news articles, like the one about the woman who distracted her neighbor by skinny-dipping in his pool while her husband robbed the neighbor's house. I've also been watching reruns of the show Flashpoint and reading gossip columns, which is why I know more about certain celebrities' love lives than I should. Online dating has also taken up a lot of time, and I haven't even gone on any dates yet.

There is one guy who recently started e-mailing me, and he wants to meet me in person. I'm happy because it means I'll finally get to go on a date, but I'm very nervous and scared because I haven't been on a date in a long time. Part of me wants to postpone it, but I know that it's better to meet him sooner rather than later.

My website job has finally slowed down, so I've resolved to devote the rest of the summer to studying. Then I can start Tweeting stuff like, "Is it bad to judge people for wearing clothes that are too revealing? Because I've already done it 237 times this week," and "I know I should eat fruit and oatmeal for breakfast, but I'm going to have this doughnut and chocolate-flavored coffee instead."

What about you? What do you wish you had more time for?

Monday, July 1, 2013

What I'm Looking For

Even though I've only been a member of for about a week, I think I'm going to cancel my membership. I just read a profile where the guy wrote, "I'm looking for a girl who's really hot and has really big boobs."

Another guy sent me an e-mail that creeped me out. He wrote, "I will love you as much as you deserve to be loved." (He doesn't even know my name, and he's already promising to love me? Blech!)

One guy wrote an e-mail that said, "I make a lot of money and will pay for everything. A pretty thing like you shouldn't have to work." (First of all, I really don't like being called a "thing". Second of all, DON'T tell me that I won't have to work! That's like telling the Kardashians that they can't be filmed anymore!)

My lack of success this time around has made me feel more than a little disappointed and bitter. In fact, I'm sitting in Starbucks right now, and there's a young couple sitting next to me who hasn't stopped touching each other, stroking each other's hair, and kissing since they sat down beside me, and it's been a half hour now. I never thought I'd be the type of person to yell, "Get a room!" or throw coffee at annoying public displays of affection, but I really wish these people who won't stop groping each other would GO AWAY right now.

In an online dating profile, you can describe who you are and what you're interested in, but you can also describe what you're looking for. I wrote that it would be nice to find someone to enjoy the city with, and that I was looking for someone who is close to my age and lives in Chicago or the suburbs. But if I was going to be really honest, here's what I would have written:

Recently I bought a small filing cabinet with two drawers for ten dollars from my building's super. Before I opened it, I thought, "Hmm. I hope there aren't any dead animals in there." The guy I'm looking for would not only not think I was weird for thinking that, but would open the cabinet and check it for me.

On, you can list the last book that you read. Some guys wrote, "I really don't like to read. I like magazines, though." Another guy wrote, "I just read my friend's Twitter feed. Good stuff." The guy I'm looking for wouldn't necessarily have to read as much as I do, but he would be someone I could talk about books with.

Although I will admit that most of the guys I've dated have been physically fit, looks aren't necessarily a deal breaker for me. I've e-mailed more than one guy because of what he wrote in his profile, not because of what he looked like. The guy I'm looking for would NEVER specify a weight limit for his dates, tell women not to e-mail him if they are fat, or write that he only wants to date "fit" women. Even though I go to the gym four to five times a week, I will never be a size six, due to my love of all things chocolate-covered. The guy I'm looking for would accept that and would still think that I am beautiful.

The guy I'm looking for also wouldn't be the type to drive around in his car with his music blasting so loud that the doors vibrate. He wouldn't keep his neighbors up all night with his loud parties or television, which means he'd never have to deal with my wrath or dodge the objects that I want to throw at loud people. He wouldn't cut in front of anyone in line, and he'd be polite, considerate, and courteous to everyone.

He would also have a good job (though he doesn't have to make six figures) and be ambitious and hard-working. I read one profile where the guy wrote, "I don't have a job right now, but I am in a band and I'm sure I'll get my big break soon." Another guy wrote, "I live with my parents, which is cool because I don't have to pay rent. So I only have to work part-time, which leaves me more time to play video games." (I'm not making that up. Did I mention this guy is in his thirties?) I want someone who doesn't treat his parents like an ATM and is responsible.

On plentyoffish you can write if you're looking for a relationship or if you're looking for casual dates with no commitment. A lot of the guys my age wrote that they're looking for casual dates. But I'm thirty-two years old. I don't want to keep going on first dates. I want a family of my own. I want someone who wants the same things I do, and who would NEVER ask me to hook up with him AND his friend (yes, that did happen to me) or who would ask to hook up with one of my friends. And he would NEVER want an "open relationship". (What's the point of being in a relationship if you're still dating other people?)

When I did online dating before, I had at least a few leads and had even gone on a date or two by now. But I joined more than a month ago, and...nothing. It's left me feeling very discouraged. has these singles events that they refer to as The Stir. There's a trivia night, a happy hour, and sporting events. Next month there's a speed dating event. I thought about going, but I already tried speed dating a few years ago, and it did not end well for me. I'm not sure if I want to try again. What do you think?

I still want to meet someone. But these past few weeks I've been neglecting my dissertation due to my online dating memberships, and now I've fallen even more behind. I think that I'm going to have to set online dating aside for now, and focus on my studies. I've spent too much time on these sites and ended up with nothing. But at least if I spend enough time on my dissertation, I'll end up with a doctorate.

Sighhh. The couple beside me keep stroking each other's hair, and now the girl is MOANING. I feel like I'm trapped in the middle of a really bad porno.

What about you? If you're single, what do you look for in a potential mate? If you're in a relationship, then what made you fall for that person that you're with?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Gone Fishin'

Since I haven't been having much success with, I decided to sign up for a free membership on I've only been on the site for a couple of days now. Due to all of the guys' pictures that I've seen so far, I now think of this site as being home to guys whose personal motto is "I THINK I'm too sexy for my shirt, but I should really put on a couple of sweaters."

Plentyoffish is a dating site that I haven't tried before. I had heard that the Millionaire Matchmaker, Patti Stanger, found her current boyfriend on this site (though I couldn't help wondering why she turned to an online dating site to find a guy when she is a professional matchmaker). I liked Patti's no-nonsense attitude towards her millionaire clients, most of whom were not as good-looking as they thought they were and only wanted to date women who were twenty years younger than them. I thought since it worked for her, maybe it would work for me.

One thing I've noticed is that a lot of the guys on that site are apparently allergic to clothing. Actually, in the FAQ section on the site, it says, "Only females can send private images. This feature was removed for men because of nudity." (I'm not making this up, though I wish I was.)

On,, eharmony, and okcupid, most of the guys wrote detailed descriptions of themselves and what they were looking for. I always thought that descriptions that were too short (or profiles that didn't include any descriptions at all) were red flags; it made me think that the guys were only on the site for one thing or didn't bother to put much effort into making themselves look good to potential dates. I know it's difficult to describe yourself, but I think you should write at least a paragraph.

On, there are some profiles where the guys wrote detailed descriptions of themselves. But the majority of the profiles have very short descriptions that are usually only two to four lines long. One of them wrote, "I'm not going to write a book. If you want to know anything, just ask me." And that's all he wrote.

Another guy wrote, "I really like sports. Go White Sox!" And that was it. Seriously.

Other guys' descriptions were a little too detailed. One guy made a point of assuring potential matches that his "man parts" (his words, not mine) were functioning properly. Another guy wrote that he was looking for a woman with a high sex drive. One guy wrote, "I don't want to date BIG GIRLS. So if you're hefty, please don't e-mail me." I mean, really?

On sites like and okcupid you can "wink" at someone to let him know that you're interested, though I always send an e-mail. On plentyoffish, if you don't want to send an e-mail, you can "send a flirt" (which isn't even grammatically correct, but WHATEVER), or you can click on the "Meet Me" option. This is where the site shows you a series of pictures (though you have to click on the guys' screennames in order to see their profiles) and asks you if you want to meet the person in the picture; you have to click on "Yes," No", or "Maybe". If you click on "Yes", then plentyoffish will let that person know that you want to meet him. So basically, you can base your decision on whether or not you want to meet someone solely on what he looks like in his pictures.

According to plentyoffish, dozens of men want to meet me. That's definitely flattering, but I don't want to meet them. Some of them are too young (22 or 23). Others live in different states, and I'd really prefer to meet someone who's a local. If I were to go on a date with someone who lived out of state, I'd feel obligated to spend a lot of time with him, because he traveled all that way to see me. But what if we didn't like each other? That would be several hours of awkwardness as opposed to just a casual coffee date with someone who lives in the city.

Although the "Meet Me" option does bug me because it bases dating decisions on physical appearance, and it REALLY bugs me that I keep seeing the line "I'm looking for someone who's in shape" again and again in guys' profiles, I have to admit that looks matter to me too. In fact, one thing I like about this site is that unlike the other dating sites I've been on, you have to put pictures of yourself in your profile in order to e-mail other people. When I looked at the pictures of the guys who wanted to meet me (though I read their profiles too), I couldn't help cringing at most of them. The fact that I'm apparently only attractive to guys that I'm not attracted to depressed me. Looks aren't the ONLY thing that matter to me. Personality, shared interests, and similar values are more important. But I have to be at least a LITTLE attracted to the person that I'm dating.

So far, then, I'm less than pleased with plentyoffish. I think I'm only going to stay on the site for a week or two, just to see if I can meet someone nice. If not, then I'll just cancel my membership, because I don't have time to maintain two online dating memberships at the same time.

Several of you have suggested that I write a book about my online dating experiences. That's a good idea. I've actually filled up more than one notebook with my descriptions of the dates I've been on, the guys I've communicated with, the weird profiles I've seen, and my observations of the differences among the dating sites. So I already have plenty of material. (I'm a little tempted to join sometime in the future, just so I can write about it.) As I said to one fellow blogger, my consolation prize from all of this is that even if I don't end up with the right guy, at least I could end up with a novel.

What about you? Why do you think that some guys don't write much about themselves (or anything at all) in their profiles? Do you think that an online dating site with no pictures at all (but with the requirement that the members write detailed descriptions of themselves) would work? I'm not sure I would join it, but I'd be interested in reading the profiles.