Monday, December 30, 2013

90 Days of Online Dating: My Sister's Friend

One of the anxieties that I've had during this online dating experience was seeing people whom I went to high school or college with or that I knew from the real world. I'm not sure why it would bother me so much but it just did. I did see a few familiar faces and I have exchanged a few emails back and forth with two (nothing to profound, just a "Oh my goodness, how are you? So good to see you!" like we had run into each other at the Target or something). There was one email that knocked me off balance, though.

I received an email saying, "You're Rebekah. Emily's sister."

That was all that the email said.

I read the guy's profile, I looked through all of his pictures but nothing rang a bell.

Though my sister and I share similarities, I really don't think we look alike. We both have large personalities and people usually notice when we walk in the same room, but over the past few years, we really haven't run in the same circles. I was very confused.

I responded with a simple yes and was hoping that would be the end of it. He replied, "I thought so! How are you?"

It's one thing to start a conversation with a clean slate and get to know someone via online messaging; it's a completely different ball game when they've got an upper hand on you and you have no idea how.

"Before I answer that, who are you?" I replied.

"I went through school with Emily."
"Yeah, I figured that. Who are you? Have we met?"

"No. We've never met. I was a few years younger than Emily so you and I never went to school together. I remember you coming around, though."

I found it (still do) interesting that this guy is probably within months of my brother's age but for some reason it seems thinks he only went to school with my sister. It's even more interesting when one considers that my brother and sister basically did everything together my brother's freshman year -- you really couldn't know one without the other. But, I digress.

As he was replying to me, I was reading through his profile. He's currently spending his time as a pizza delivery guy. He had hopes of either getting into a well-known music program or joining the military next year. He loves his family. Apparently one of the things he "can't live without" is a mint mojito.

If he's "a few years younger" than my sister, he's not legally old enough to drink.

I asked him about his drink of choice and he responded, "Oh, yeah! Love those!"

"But you're not old enough to drink," I emailed back.

"Well, no, but the ladies don't have to know that." He inserted a winky face for good measure.

"It says your age on your profile."

"Right. I had forgotten about that."

We had a few more one sentence emails back and forth which all consisted of me calling him out on different things on his profile. He eventually stopped responding. I still don't know his name or recognize his face.

This reminds me of my first year of teaching. A few friends and I went out to a bar in downtown to go dancing. I spotted a student of mine (he was a junior in high school) across the dance floor. Thankfully, I knew the bouncer from an environmental science class in college and got the situation taken care of. The kid was still talking about "finding whoever ratted him out" when he returned to school on Monday.

Some people. They're just simple. Bless their hearts.

Friday, December 27, 2013

90 Days of Online Dating: My Life Problem, I Think.

Hey y'all! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.

I spent the weeksbefore Christmas looking forward to lots of laughs with my family, some incredible eating provided by my grandmothers and my mom, and Cousin Time with the extensions of my soul. All of the cousins couldn't be together on my dad's side of the family because my aunt and uncle and their two offspring are currently stationed in South Korea, but all of the Originals were going to be in attendance (a few were bringing their significant others) and I just knew it was going to be a Christmas to remember.

And it was...but not because of the food or the Cousin Time...

But because of the fever, body aches, and sickness that has plagued my body for the past few days. No Cousin Time, no food, no laughter. Insert depressing sigh here...

I'm finally at the point that I can stand for more than ten minutes and personal hygiene is back on the list of priorities. I'm taking these all as good signs, though my diet is still basically water and Campbell's Chicken 'n' Rice Soup. You win some, you lose some, I guess.

But my current required love of Chicken 'n' Rice Soup is not why you're here.

I still haven't gone on any dates and I'm not really emailing with anyone promising. It's just an app on my phone for the moment.

I have, however, been doing some introspection.

This guy emailed me. I don't know his name so I'm going to call him Bob. According to Bob's profile, he's nothing like I'm looking for. I've learned that if guys lie about themselves online, they usually lie in their favor, so I'm thinking that everything that Bob is saying is legit. Meaning, he makes less than I do, he has a kid, he still lives with his parents, he graduated high school but hasn't attended any higher-level education. Oh, and did I mention he's 31?

Some of the things that I listed are not the end of the world. I'm willing to have a conversation if you have a kid. If you haven't gone onto higher-level education but you've done something meaningful with your life, great! You make less than I do...well, I'm a teacher. Are you a teacher, too? Because if you're a teacher, I can't date you for about a million different reasons. You still live with your parents? Um. Umm...we're gonna...well, um, we're gonna need to have another conversation. Especially if you're 31. 

I come from the school of belief that whomever you date should make you better. They should build you up and encourage you and point you on to greener pastures. They should have an understanding of your life and be able to your helpmate and your partner.

So, there's me.

I have my own house. I own my own car. I have a four-year college degree and am beginning to work on my Master's. I have a career and all of the baggage that comes with it. I have a supportive family and an incredible group of friends who have walked me through several stages of life and loved me in so many ways. Whoever walks into my life and expects to take on the challenge of dating me has big shoes to fill.

These shoes are not just the ones that my Daddy has walked in my whole life, but even more than that, the shoes that I've built myself. If you're going to come to table, you better bring something to share. Not to brag, but I'm a pretty good cook (realistically and metaphoricallly, in this sense) and you've gotta measure up. And these kinds of goods can't come from Harris Teeter (though there isn't a a girl alive who will say no to their Creme Cheese Frosted Brownies, amen!).

Before you enter into a relationship, you have to know what you're worth. You have to know what you're bringing to the table and what can be expected for the other person to bring to the table. At some point it needs to be an equal playing field.

Here's my life problem: I've gotta wait. Waiting for the guy who has it all isn't optional for me. I've figured out what I'm worth and that bill adds up. Second best isn't just first loser in this sense; it's completely a loss.

Bob, you have a great day. I hope with everything to that you find an amazing woman to walk along in life with you and to love your daughter. Unfortunately, I'm not that girl.

Monday, December 23, 2013

90 Days of Online Dating: The Date Where I Fell Asleep

Yes, that title is true. I went on a date and I fell asleep. 

This date happened earlier this year, but since I have nothing new to share, I'm going back into the archives for some material.

The first time I was online dating, back in February, I received a message from a guy. He was nice and easy to talk to, he was also a high school teacher (as I was at the time) so we had plenty to talk about. This guy knew exactly what he wanted and he was going to go after it (read: me). We started messaging on a Saturday and he somehow talked me into going on a date that Monday, 48 hours later. 

For the life of me I cannot remember why, but I remember being very, very tired. It must have been an eventful weekend or maybe it was just a long day with students. Regardless, I was tired. Samuel still got me on a date.

I changed my clothes, put on date-appropriate shoes, refreshed my make-up, and headed out to the restaurant. Samuel lived in a neighboring county so we were splitting the difference in drive time. 35 minutes later, I showed up to the restaurant and he greeted me at the door.

I'm gonna be honest: my first impression was "Nope! Never gonna happen!" If I didn't think it was completely tactless, I would've Lemon Lawed him right then, right there (any HIMYM fans in the house?). Nevertheless, I went inside to dinner. By this time, I had perfected my first date spill: I have the best family in the world (insert a story or two about Lake Week or Christmastime), I love my job (tell either a story about my sassiest student or my most challenging student, depending on the mood), and traveling is a passion of mine (ever heard of the Middle East? Yeah, it changed my life). 

Then, I made the mistake of letting him talk. Well, the good news about this portion of the date was I was given the opportunity to eat my entire salad and plate of pasta without having to worry about talking with my mouth full. This. Kid. Could. Talk. Y'all. 

Do you remember how I said I was tired? Well, when I'm entertained I can push through the tiredness and stay alert. However, when my entertainment is monotoned and is unaware that he is repeating myself for about the fourth time, my eyes get a little heavy. I did my best to "Oh, really" and "Is that right?" and "Oh, wow!" in all of the right places. I started pinching myself in the wrist to try to keep alert.

Samuel excused himself from the table and my ears were happy to get a break. I laid my head in my hands, trying to think of how I could let this one down gently. He was so sweet but there was zero spark. Our sense of humors didn't really match up and it just wasn't right. It, that glorious It that every girl wants to find, simply wasn't there. 

I felt a hand on my back. It was Samuel announcing his return to the table. I jumped a mile high. He laughed and asked if he startled me.

Truth be told, what had startled me the most was the fact that Samuel had pulled me out of that twilight zone. I had fallen to sleep right there at the table. Head in my hands, my eyes had closed and I was slipping out of reality to catch some Zs. Thankfully, the restrooms were behind me, so I really don't think he noticed.

Blame it on the long weekend, blame it on a crappy Monday. It doesn't really matter what you blame it on, here's the truth: I went on a date and a fell asleep.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all, happy dating :)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

90 Days of Online Dating: Decisions.

First, an apology: do you know those moments when you forget if the day is Tuesday or Wednesday? I did that last week, except I thought that Friday was Tuesday. Pulling two sixty-hour work weeks with my church's Christmas pageant on top of it made me hurt. I had to cross off my lesson plans so I wouldn't make copies for the wrong days!

Not blogging for two weeks was completely unintentional. It just kind of happened as the clock kept moving and there weren't enough hours in the day.

So much has happened since I last posted. Let's catch up!

The biggest thing would probably be my recent acceptance into graduate school at North Carolina State University! This is a move that I've been considering for about two years (seriously for a year) and decided to take a leap of faith and try. I got an email a few weeks ago letting me know that I was accepted and I've enrolled in my first class. I am beyond excited (and more than a bit nervous) about this new adventure. I will be studying Literacy Education for K-12. This will enable me to do small group education one day and to work one-on-one with struggling students.

And, yes, I am currently an educator in North Carolina. And, no, the news has not been lying to you about our current working conditions. However, my heart lies in my classroom and until there's no fight left in me, I'll keep fighting the good one.

On that note, I have survived twelve more days with my kiddos. Some moments I truly don't know how I did it. Others, I'm so in love with my job and the little people I get to work with that I could weep for joy.

My church's Christmas pageant was last weekend and my amazing drama team rocked it! I loved working with that group of people and seeing them all come together as one. 

That's enough about me...let's talk about dating!

Unfortunately, I have no jolly good news to share on that front. Even though I haven't been faithful with the blogging, I have been faithful with the online dating. For the most part, these guys are weird.

However, there is Chad.

Chad messaged me about three weeks ago with an interest to know about growing up in a small town (a little factoid I share about myself on my profile). We started chatting about large families and he told me about growing up across the United States (military family). We shared Thanksgiving traditions -- it was a week before the holiday -- and I regaled him with stories of my students who had truly lost their minds on account of the upcoming five-day break. 

Our emails haven't been consistent recently; regardless, they happen. 

Chad is also the oldest of three and while his family spreads over multiple state lines, they're very close. He works at his dream job and loves doing things in the woods. I'm gonna be honest, y'all, I don't do nature, but I'm all about a man who wants to spend his time outdoors. You wear that plaid, honey!

You couldn't see it, but I just snapped my fingers in a "Can I get a witness?" fashion. Moving on...

Here's the thing about Chad, though, guys: he doesn't love Jesus.

My parents had this saying when my siblings and I were growing up: "Don't wait until you have to make a decision to make it." Meaning, you need to decide the answers to the serious questions before you get caught in the situation. If you wait until you're handed the cigarette to decide if you want to be a smoker or not, you're more than likely going to become one. If you're already in the backseat with the guy...well, bless your heart.

A year ago I dated a guy who I thought hung the moon. He gave me the tingles and challenged me and made me think and listened really well. However, I knew from our first date that we weren't going to be a forever kind of thing. He was too wishy-washy in his beliefs and I firmly believe in being equally yoked. I tricked myself into thinking other things because I was too busy admiring his beard and holding his hand, but I knew the entire time that the situation would do nothing but end with a broken heart on my end. 

If I had held on to my convictions a year ago,  a lot of things would be different. I've learned to learn from history because it will surely repeat itself.

As much as he makes me laugh and as much as I like talking about all of our travel adventures, Chad's gotta go.

Somewhere out there is a man with a beard and soul that loves Jesus. The plan is to wait for him, and I'm gonna stick with the plan.

Monday, December 2, 2013

December 2nd.

Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."

Two years ago, I woke up in my aunt and uncle's house in Georgia. My uncle was going to be honored at a changing of command ceremony, where he turned his battalion over to another commanding officer. His time at Fort Gordon was up, and my parents and I had headed down to Georgia to be with him during this special time.

I watched Uncle Doug be honored and go through the ceremony -- the likes of which I had never seen anywhere else -- and afterwards we headed out for a family meal at Logan's Roadhouse. Those rolls were so good.

I was wearing a green sweater with a new purple scarf that I just bought the week before especially for this occasion. I dropped some barbeque sauce on the right arm of the sweater during lunch. The stain is still there. I was wearing some high heels that day, too.

As we were walking out of the restaurant, my phone rang -- I was still rockin' the purple BlackBerry -- and my caller ID told me that my CBSP sister Holly was calling me. I figured she was probably raising support for her job with Campus Crusade, so I figured I would pick up the phone, tell her I was busy, and call back later.

"Hey, Miss Holly! How's it -- "

"Bekah." Holly is one of the most upbeat people you'll ever meet. She doesn't end sentences with periods. It's usually an exclamation point.

"What. What's wrong?"

"Bekah. Travis is dead."

I know that my hip bone is connected to my leg bone and my leg bone is connected to my foot bone, but I couldn't remember where my feet were at that moment. I took a step forward to try to balance myself and I chastised myself once again for how bad of an idea my heels were that day.

"HE'S WHAT!" I yelled into the phone.

Travis was overseas. Travis was telling people about Jesus. Travis was having an adventure. Travis isn't dead.

"Travis is dead."

Holly kept talking and saying things. She explained to me how he was found in his bedroom and she said other words, too. I don't remember any of them. The sun was really bright, I do remember that. My family was hollering for me to get in the car; they didn't know that I was trying to process the most life-altering information I had ever been given.

Travis is dead. Travis is dead. Travis is dead. Travis is dead. Travis is dead.

The next thing I remember is being in the car with my grandparents and cousins. My mom was in the other car and was texting me if I had anymore information on my friend who had been injured.

No, Mom. I typed. He's not injured. Travis is dead.

My phone started ringing. Julia. Kerianne. My phone kept ringing. My sister. Jessica. Will.

I started calling people and asking what they knew. Information gets jumbled when we're relaying it across the ocean and then multiple state lines.

I called numbers I hadn't called in years -- Jill, Kelsey, Makenly -- and relayed the news over and over again: Travis is dead. Our brother has died. Our family won't be whole again.

Over the next few days, I didn't cry. I didn't want to feel anything, so I just turned into a robot. I went to work, gave my kids worksheets, sat at my desk, and stared out the window. I began to search for places in Travis' hometown to rent so we could all be together for the funeral and I looked up who had the cheapest flights for last-minute bookings to fly in our friends from outside driving distance.

A newspaper article from Travis' hometown made it public knowledge that he was dead. More than that, the article made it public knowledge that someone had killed Travis. What we had heard was an accident, a malfunction of his heater to cause an overdose of carbon monoxide, was actually murder.

Kerianne sent me a text saying "Julia says Travis's death wasn't an accident." I called her and she read me the article -- Travis was suffocated, found with a plastic bag over his head. I was driving down 440 heading back to The Manor. Wanna talk about distracted driving? I'll take your fighting six-year-olds in the backseat any day. She read me the article, and I held in my emotions. I went to The Manor, let out the dog, called My Kelsey and sped the two miles to her house.

I screamed. I cried. I screamed. I pulled out a few strands of hair. I said a lot of four-letter words. I screamed. I'm pretty sure I terrified My Lauren. I pounded my fists in her couch and on her floor. I felt everything for the first time in two weeks. It hurt like hell. I know what evil feels like, smells like. What the bile of it tastes like.

Someone murdered Travis.

I know someone else who was murdered.

They put nails in His hands, and stuck needles and thorns into His head. They whipped Him with chains made of broken glass and animal teeth. They raised His body up for all to see. They spit on Him, called Him names. Made fun of Him. They stripped Him of His clothes and humiliated Him. He is their Savior, and they crucified him like a criminal.

Travis didn't have to die. Someone else made that decision for him.

Jesus did have to die. He made that decision for Himself according to the will of His Father.

Jesus died so that Travis' death could mean something. Jesus died so that Travis' life could mean even more.

I am a public school teacher. I'm not supposed to talk about Jesus. However, when my kids see a picture of their Mama Sandy and some guy, they get curious. I answer their questions and I tell them about how Travis was the good one -- I swear he never got angry or frustrated. He had the patience of a saint. I tell them that the picture was taken my sophomore year of college at a dance that Travis and I went to together. We laughed a lot that night. The reason the picture is so old is because Travis died before we could take anymore. I tell them that he died because he loved Someone more than himself: Jesus.

Thanks to Travis' story I've told more of my kids about Jesus than I ever could before.

One of my most vivid memories of Travis is during the weekend we were all up in Kentucky for that dance. We were talking about when the next time all of us would get together and that we were sad to have to leave. We knew it was going to be a while before we could reconvene. Travis said, "Don't worry, you guys. Eventually everyone will start getting married and those can be our reunions!"

Weddings did bring us together a time or two, but our biggest reunion to date was for Travis' funeral.

Travis' entire existence had purpose. In life, his purpose was to make Jesus known. In death, his purpose is to leave a legacy that helps me make Jesus known. 

Travis' life didn't end in death. He is more alive in this moment than I will ever feel on this earth. Travis' story isn't over. When life is in Jesus, it's eternal. I celebrate that Travis' death on this earth was simply a stepping stone to Glory. I celebrate that he ran the race well and finished to hear, "Well done, My good and faithful servant."  I celebrate knowing that my Clearwater family is only separated here in this world, but will soon be reunited on streets of gold.

Hallelujah. Thank You, Jesus.

Friday, November 29, 2013

90DoOD: Dancing Monkeys

There is currently a pile of dirty dishes in my sink that I haven't touched since Tuesday. Those were created because a co-worker of mine decided she wanted to cook in my kitchen and then the two of us pop open a bottle of wine and we have a sleepover. I know for a fact that zero of my windows have been cleaned since I moved in my house and I'm sure that's a true statement for some baseboards and door frames as well.

When my family was announcing our Thanksgiving Day plans, I put them on my calendar and I never questioned them. After I ate my fill of dressing and dumplins (each of my grandmothers' respective Thanksgiving delicacies), I returned to my Cute Little House and curled up with the book of the moment and had a peaceful evening.

I like this life, this life of mine; it's a good one.

While I was reading said book, the narrator switched over to the wife of the main character and she was analyzing her relationship in contrast to the relationships of her two best friends and their husbands. She and her two friends had met at a bar in Soho for cocktail hour and by the end of it, the two husbands had shown up to pay their respects, but not hers.

After receiving pitiful glances from the four pairs of eyes looking across at her, she begins a monologue about the dancing monkeys.

The dancing monkeys are the men whose women make them prove their love on a daily basis: do this chore; don't wear that, wear this instead; show up to cocktail hour so I can show you off to my friends; make sacrifices for the life that I want.

Before the specific list was given, the wife referenced "the pointless tasks, myriad sacrifices, the endless small surrenders" that women make men do to prove their love. I found myself making a note in the margin -- English major, remember? Don't judge too quickly, please -- saying: "What does it say about my life that I don't know what these are?"

Have my "semi-serious" relationships, as I like to call them, not been as serious as I thought they were because I hadn't encountered them? Am I too selfish a person to realize that I've done these in the past? Was I too independent in my relationship to ever ask/expect a man to do anything for me, much less prove his love?

The wife continues on explaining how she doesn't make a dancing monkey out of her husband. She, instead, greets him enthusiastically when they both get home from their respective outings (cocktail hour for her, impromptu poker night for him) and they both talk about their days. They speak of the dancing monkeys they encountered separately -- the husbands who would have paid to be anywhere but cocktail hour, the boyfriend who wanted to play poker but whose girlfriend desperately needed him to make an appearance at her dinner with friends -- and giggle, tongue-in-cheek, at those relationships.

The wife later sighs in the fact that her husband isn't more of a dancing monkey. Their relationship is a tough one to figure out: I'm not sure if she wants a dancing monkey, or if she wants him to want to be a dancing monkey, or if that was a sigh of relief that she doesn't have a dancing monkey for a husband.

I don't think I want a dancing monkey. Is that a bad thing?

Yes, I want a guy whom I can introduce to my friends and who will pick up my favorite bottle of wine because he wants to. Yes, I believe that couples should split the household chores and to show a bit of respect for the other's busy schedule, maybe even pick up one or two of the chores not on their personal list. Does this mean my boyfriend/husband is "whipped" or that he respects me?

I associate the term "whipped" or "dancing monkey" with a robot of some sort, a being who can't think for themselves. I think of the guy in my future as a respectful gentleman who finds pride in making me smile and in making my day.

Where I'm getting confused here is what makes the two different? The man's intention behind it? My expectation for it?

I cook asparagus and broccoli on a weekly basis. I'm beyond snobbish about what kind of pasta goes with each dish I make. I only vacuum when company comes over.

If I started cooking asparagus and broccoli on alternating weeks, does that mean I'm respecting his opinion, or chiseling away at my personality and my wants in order for someone else to take over?  If I vacuum once a week because I want him to take pride in my home and the home that we will build together, am I single-handedly taking the feminist movement one gigantic step backwards?

I've been surrounded by enough good and healthy and long-lasting relationships in my life to be 98% sure of the answer. The problem is that the 2% left over is currently very strong and making me question a few things.

If I have to have a passive man in order to have one who takes pleasure in my smile, then I don't want it. If I have to nag in order to feel appreciated, I'll keep my weekly broccoli and asparagus. If I can't watch football loudly because he wants me to be seen and not heard, my windows will go on being dirty without anyone saying a blessed word. I have will sleepovers with friends during the week, I'll read books on Thanksgiving, I will spend every Christmas morning with my parents, and I will book a flight to South Korea to see my aunt and uncle and tell the travel agent, "Yes, ma'am, one ticket. Just one."

When did respect and kindness leave our society and become something to poke and joke about? When did sacrificing oneself for the good of the whole make someone an idiot or less of a human being? When did settling become something not only permitted, but advocated for?

This journey through online dating was supposed to be something fun. It was supposed to be light and breezy and full of interesting conversations that would lead to stories I would tell my girlfriends about during our own cocktail hour. I've noticed how it's made me go political on many levels. Maybe it's because I'm "meeting" people who aren't in my normal social circle. Maybe it's because I've had to defend my ideals more than once. Regardless of the reason, I'm not sorry for it and I'm certainly not apologizing for it either.

As we wrap up our turkey and we move on from a time of gratitude into the most selfish season of the year, I'm going to be thankful for just a moment longer: thankful for parents who love each other. Thankful for parents who will never stop loving each other. Thankful for grandparents who always have and always will love each other and show their grandchildren just how worth it is to never, ever settle. Thankful that I'm blessed enough to have the knowledge of true love in my mind, heart, and soul.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

90 Days of Online Dating: The Tale of Two Guys.

I have had the opportunity to be emailing back and forth with two guys for the past two days.

Guy #1 lives in Charlotte, about a three-hour drive from me. I've said this before and I'll say it again: I don't do long-distance relationships. There has to be something there worth fighting for in order to get me to agree to that. I've done it before; we had been dating for about two months when he moved across state lines for a summer internship. I knew he was coming back and social media made communication easier. The whole thing ended soon after he returned, but I am thankful for an experience that taught me so much.

This guy, however, doesn't stand a chance at getting me to agree to something long-distance.

His profile says that our religious views are completely different, he thinks it would be a great social experiment for a Democrat to date a Republican, he lives three hours away, and he's already mentioned "hooking up." But I have to give him this: he's a persistent little booger.

Every time I say "no, thanks, but thanks anyway," he returns the email with another reason why he thinks we would be good together.

"We both want to get married one day!" "Think of all of the philosophical discussions we could have with our opposing viewpoints!" "I've always wanted to date a teacher -- I had a thing or two for most of my teachers in high school."

That last one is the edited version of what he sent, but it still get the creepy effect across.

I usually look forward to my phone beeping with an alert from my dating website app, but not recently. Bless his heart.


Guy #2 actually had some potential...until he opened his mouth.

His pictures have him surrounded by friends on different adventures without a beer can in sight. I don't mind drinking responsibly, but I think there is a typically-true stereotype that goes along with guys who post pictures of themselves getting schwasted.

His profile says he loves Jesus, is a civil engineer, has traveled to a few countries besides his own, and loves the Wolfpack.

Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!

Or not.

He sent me a message asking what I was doing for this Thanksgiving holiday. We shared a few emails back and forth about our respective Thanksgiving plans and then he asked me what brought me to the dating site.

My go-to answer is that I work too much and my hours are different from the rest of the grown-up world's, so this is just easier and more efficient for a finding a guy.

"Yeah, I'm kind of a workaholic. I love my job, so it's hard to say no when they want to give me overtime. But this cuts out the bar scene. This also means that I don't have time for a relationship so just dating and maybe a little fun."

(Grammar and spelling edited for your pleasure and comfort.)

I'm all about dating: free meal, interesting conversation, expanding the pool of people I know. But "a little fun" in this context is not up my alley.

Again, bless his heart. He was so close.

Monday, November 25, 2013

90DoOD: Question 5

So it continues: lots of emails from people that I can't date. Or won't date. Or just...say no thank you to.

Consequently, Question 5 is on the blog today.

I know you're thinking, "Uh, Reba, you forget Question 4...."

Yes. I'm aware. I'll come back to it, I swear.

Question 5: Favorite movie of all time? Why so?

Picking favorites isn't easy for me. Without a doubt, the only favorites I truly know are

My favorite person in history: Jesus.
My favorite color: purple.
My favorite college: North Carolina State University.

Any other favorites...I just don't know.

However, I will bend my must-please-everybody brain and pick out a winner.

You've Got Mail.

Have you seen it? If not, you should.

It came out in 1998, right at the beginning of the internet's takeover of the world. AOL was all the rage and the words "You've Got Mail" had a whole new meaning. I was only nine years old at the time, so it was a few years until I watched it, but, I swear to you, it was love at first viewing.

The film tells of Kathleen Kelly, who owns a children's bookstore in New York. It is a small but profitable labor of love -- until Foxbooks, a mega-chain of super-sized bookstores, begins building across the street. Joe Fox, an executive with the family-owned firm, is directly responsible for this particular branch. Kathleen despises Joe and everything he seems to stand for. The future of her very livelihood is in doubt. When Kathleen and Joe are not working, they are logged onto their respective computers, where they've each met a wonderful friend. No one else has shared-or is even aware of-their intimate, anonymous electronic conversations that begin with the magic words "you've got mail." --IMDB

I couldn't have said it better myself.

The film is loosely based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.  When I found this out, it took the movie to a whole new level. I've always loved reading and books, even when I was a kid and it wasn't cool. The fact that someone could take a piece of literature, put a modern spin on it, and then market it to the masses for the world to drool over fascinated me.

A few reasons why this wins as my favorite movie:

1. Kathleen has gumption. I love female characters who tell it like it is while still being a lady. She is a successful career woman with a close group of friends. She stands up for what she believes in and fights for what she wants. I love that she has an open heart and a soul of steel.

2. The central setting is a bookstore in New York City. I have had an unending love affair with NYC my whole life -- the city that never sleeps, where stars are born and dreams come to life. And it's a bookstore. Need I say more?

3. Watching it now in 2013, the screech of the dial-up internet makes my heart very, very happy.

4. I love the evolution of the love story. I'm a romantic at heart and to see the tumultuous, volatile relationship ebb and flow into happily ever after... *sigh*

 "You've Got Mail" is my go-to movie for a sick day. Or a rainy day in need of warm blankets and hot chocolate.

I'm pretty sure I've just talked myself into putting this on the calendar over Thanksgiving break.

Friday, November 22, 2013

90DoOD: The Whole World, Please.

Some may call me a prude, but I prefer the word old-fashioned. My parents raised me the right way and I live in such a way that I have no regrets. I consider my own bed a very sacred area that houses my sweet dreams and warm blankets. I view other people's bed as somewhere I don't belong -- that's their space.

When other people don't feel the same, it kind of shocks me.

Some guys and the things they're willing to say just shocks me, too.

I received a message last week from this guy. We sent a few messages back and forth. He has a steady job that he likes, he's educated, and he has a brother. These things I know. I don't recall his name, though.

He works and lives about 45 minutes outside of Raleigh and he told me that I shouldn't worry about doing a long-distance kind of thing because he's in Raleigh all the time. I kind of rolled my eyes at his presumptuousness that I would even give him a chance. But, then again, I guess confidence is good-looking on a guy.

He messaged me while on his way to Raleigh for a business conference. He said that he was having to entertain clients all day but he would be open to entertaining a date that night. I did a little crooked smile at the idea of having a drink or two with a guy.

Not three messages later, I stopped smiling.

"I just got to my hotel. Damn, this is too big for one person. You should come keep me company."


This guy was nice, y'all. He seemed to have a good family and I thought he had decent raising. He could carry on a conversation and he allegedly loved sushi and said he would compromise on what movies to watch. He was kinda cute and he had this witty sense of humor that made me giggle.

What homeboy doesn't have is a clue.

It is my personal belief that women have been watered down to be just a few things: easy, shallow, make-up wearing, cosmopolitan drinking Top Guns with a mouth like a sailor. We're supposed to be that all while wearing stilettos.

Um, no.

Women are absolutely allowed to be those things. That's our choice. But that's not what we're made for. We're made to be strong and to be talented. We're made to be smart and to be multi-taskers who take on the day without fear.

The need to compare ourselves to one another has robbed us, slowly but surely, of our identities and our credit scores. We, as a society, are so buried in debt and that we can't laugh at the days to come because we're so busy making that next dollar to rob Peter to pay Paul. We're counting calories, not because we want to be healthy, but because we need to be skinniest woman in the bar to pick up a man. Excuse me, a male.

Women are made to want security. We are made to crave the care and attention it takes for us to feel secure and wanted. We've abandoned true security and taken on pseudo security: if I can feel good for one minute, that will get me through a rough patch. Once I break up with this guy, I can find another one and he'll make me feel pretty.

Sorry, people. That's not what I'm looking for. I want the real thing. I want the be-all end-all that I've watched growing up. I want to be dancing on the screened-in porch when I'm 70. I want to make-out in the kitchen and make my kids get really grossed out. I want to have a guy bring me lunch at work and learn all of my teammates' names.

I had this vision when I started this experience that I would eventually go on a date with a guy from this whole shenanigan. I would be super excited and giddy about it and I would probably buy a new outfit. You would wait by your computer screens the next day, waiting for the full re-cap on a blog post. I would tell you about the awkward jokes he made and how I spilled something.

I still want that. I think I'll always want that.

But that isn't going to stop me from wanting more.

Sorry, homeboy. Your bed is going to stay too big for one person. Until you have the whole world to offer me, I want nothing to do with your sheets.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

90DoOD: Questions 2 & 3

A few weeks ago, I posted eHarmony's fifteen best questions to ask on a first date. I gave my answer to the first one, as well.

Since online dating is currently boring, for lack of a better word, I figured now was as good of a time as any to do questions two and three!

Question 2: What sorts of things really make you laugh?

I laugh at almost anything. Just because I'm laughing doesn't mean that I'm having a good time. I could just as easily be uncomfortable or on the verge of tears. Laughing is my escape from all other emotions.

I think the things that really make me laugh are real life stories. Lord knows I have my fair share of interesting life stories, and connecting with someone in that way is good for my soul.

Question 3: What's your favorite place in the entire world?

I have many of these. They have changed as my life has changed and I have adventured more over this world. Beirut, Lebanon and Clearwater Beach, Florida will always be in my Top 5, but those places are just the containers of the love that I have -- the people that shared love with me in those places are what truly matters. North Carolina State University campus is also, most definitely, in that Top 5. Both of my grandparents' houses round out the Top 5.

However, I think that my favorite place in the world is a bit more abstract than an address.

My favorite place would be the lake house where my dad's side of the family spends a week out of every summer together. The actual lake house that has housed all of us has changed from year to year, mind you, but the idea of all coming together is what gets me really excited. We laugh, play, swim, read, sleep, and tan for one entire week, Saturday to Saturday, every summer. This is the week that all of the cousins and aunts and uncles work the hardest to be together. Now that my generation is older and we have real life jobs and that sort of thing, it's getting harder. I think it was Christmas of 2012 the last time that all eleven of us were in the same room together.

I love that we have all of these memories together. Tell any of my cousins that Aunt Sheri is cooking tacos and the groan of sudden hunger will shock you. Or that Aunt Beth Ann has decided to cook something other than chicken and rice -- that protest could be heard across state lines. If you call for a game of cards, move out of the way: the pitter patter of feet is about to get louder as we all charge up the stairs to pick the best partner.

I grew up in a fairyland surrounded by people who love me more than words can express. The lake house is the castle of the fairyland.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

90 Days of Online Dating: Making Your Profile

Okay, gentlemen. If you're thinking about creating a profile or if you have one that you need to tweak, allow me to give out my two cents for you.

About Me: 
1. Always, always, always be honest. There is no need to overshare, but don't lie about your age, your current employment, your height, your weight, or your hobbies. Just because you read two books in high school does not mean that you love reading. Roadtripping to the beach every Fourth of July doesn't make you an avid traveler. Renting the same beach house every year doesn't mean that you "have" a beach house. It's a sentimental ownership and it doesn't count. Sorry.

2. Speak positively about your life. Even if you currently hate your job and are looking to transition, that's something you can hit her with on the third date. Keep things upbeat and cheery. You're more likely to meet an upbeat and cheery girl.

3. If you can't play more than two songs on a guitar, you can't play the instrument. Don't try to impress her.

Your Pictures:
1. Going along with the above number three, if you can't play the guitar, take down the picture of you holding your frat brother's guitar at the New Year's Eve party last year. It'll give girls the wrong impression and you'll just break her heart.

2. Only post a picture of your dog if you're in the picture.

3. Always post a picture of your dog if you have one -- girls are attracted to cute, cuddly things.

4. When selecting pictures, put your main profile picture as one of just you. Let the girl be able to see your face. The second picture can be of you from a bit of a distance to show off your physique. Then you can post the puppy pictures and the Boys Weekend at the Beach pictures (but nothing too embarrassing!). 

5. Girls are wired with some kind of predisposition to guys who have some height on them. Even if you're 6'2", don't post the picture of you standing next to your freakishly-tall 6'8" friend. Girls automatically assume that Guy #2 is of normal height and that you've fibbed a bit about your height on your profile.

6. When picking out your profile pictures, talk to a trusted female friend and have her pick out her three favorite Facebook pictures of you. The pictures you post say a lot about you, have a girl help you get a girl. We all kind of think alike.

7. Don't post selfies, mirror pics, or pictures with your shirt off. Have some class. Don't be twelve.

8. Actually, here's a great rule: if you can Google a picture with Miley Cyrus or Lady Gaga doing the same pose or wearing the same thing, don't post that picture. Unless you're doing it ironically, and make sure that people know you're doing it ironically.

9. 90% of your pictures should be from the past ten months.

What You're Looking For:
1. I would suggest that even if it's an option (because it is), don't list the size of the female that you're looking for. Just because a girl is "slender" doesn't mean that she feels that way about herself. Because of one word on your profile, she's now insecure about herself and about how you would feel about her and she's not going to message you. We're weird. We know. Just leave it as "no preference."

2. I'm going to give you a piece of advice that my AP Psychology teacher once gave to my class my senior year: The mediocre-looking girls have the best personalities. The ones that peaked in high school never had to learn how to do anything because they had boobs already. The other girls have learned to be funny and keep you entertained. Just because a girl's waist size isn't what you thought you wanted, don't exclude her. Just sayin. If she's a 6 on the Hotness Scale, give her an email anyways. You just never know.

3. Say something about what you're looking for in her personality.

Here's what mine says: "My ideal man is taller than me, can make me laugh, listens, smiles at me from across the room when he walks in, likes my cooking, is incredibly sarcastic, likes to hold my hand, makes the plans, knows the difference between "your" and "you're", can hold a conversation, and doesn't mind me talking about my very large, incredibly amazing family."

Getting Her to Message You:
Ask some questions on your profile. Give her a starting point. There is nothing more annoying than receiving an email that just says "hey." Without the period, of course. Actually, I think "hey your gorgeous" is worse. 

Give the girl a prompt or two so she can have a starting point that will be the cornerstone of the story you two get to tell as you're living happily ever after.

Good luck, men!

Friday, November 15, 2013

90DoOD: Carsen.

Day: I forget. I'll recount later.

Current Mood: Perplexed.

Recent Online Activity: About two weeks ago, a guy named Carsen emailed me. He stated that based on our respective profiles, he didn't think that we would be a match, but he wanted to email me anyways. Apparently he works with a bunch of transplanted Yankees (preaching to the choir on that one!) and wanted someone with whom to talk ACC football. Despite the fact that my Wolfpack is currently breaking my heart, they're still my Wolfpack.

Carsen and I exchanged a few emails and he seemed like a decent guy.

He eventually got my number and we've been texting.

While I was at the Duke game last weekend, he was texting me through almost every other play. It was nice to have someone on the red side while I was surrounded by that other color.

Carsen is constantly reminding me that he isn't interested in having a relationship with me (and I agree that it wouldn't work), yet he has called me every night this week as soon as he's gotten off of work. On Tuesday, I was answering all of his questions with one word answers. I had had an off day and I was also cooking supper while I was on the phone. After the third or fourth "yep" he said, "Okay, what's wrong? Tell me everything. I can tell you're in a mood."

I tried to shrug it off and move the conversation on, but he wouldn't take no for an answer.

I talked it all out and he listened. He encouraged me after I word-vomited and then we talked about his day.

This happened -- minus the crappy mood on my end -- again Wednesday and Thursday night.

Call me crazy but I'm seeing a pattern here.

He calls on his way home from work, we talk about our days, we tell each other tomorrow will be better, we get excited over each other's weekend plans, and then we hang up. Thirty seconds after the hang up, he texts me something goofy to make me laugh. Right before lunch he sends me a text "just to make me smile" and that launches into a lunchtime text session.

I know this pattern because it was the same one that I had with both of my ex-boyfriends.

So here's my question to you, Blogger World: Do I remind this guy that we will never (and I mean never) be more than friends? Do I soak up the attention and just let it be? Do I casually yet suddenly call him out one night for flirting with me and see if that's enough to get him to stop?

It's one thing to talk sports and hate on Duke during our football game. It's another thing to remind me of the story I told about one of my kids the day before and how that "proves [I am] truly a great teacher and [I] should just focus on my kids," as he said.

I'm all about guys and girls being friends. I'm very thankful for my guy friends. But this is just getting to be more than friends, ya know? I want to do right by him and I certainly don't want to play with his emotions.

Where do I go from here?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

90DoOD: Don't Pray for Marriage.

Have you ever heard a phrase that struck something deep inside you? A sentence that makes you stop dead in your tracks? Sometimes these sentences contain bits of shocking news -- I remember forgetting where my feet were when I found out that my Project brother died; the same kind of effect happened when my friend Kevin told me about the terrorist attacks happening in that exact moment on 9/11.

My whole world was turned upside down the first time that I truly heard the words "Jesus wants you." I had heard the concept before, but my soul had never heard it. Jesus wants me -- my flaws, my freckles, the few extra pounds around the middle. He wants my split ends and all of the snorts I produce when I laugh too hard. He wants my pseudo OCD and my barely-organized chaos.
I was already a believer when I heard this phrase, but I was still struggling deep with insecurities and attempting to find my place in this world. When my Bible Study leader, Shelly, said those three words, it was like everything clicked together. I have seriously contemplated getting those three words tattooed on myself as a constant reminder of the truth in them.

I was stopped dead a few weeks ago when a friend said to me: "Don't pray for marriage."

I went to a cookout the other night and was greeted immediately by a friend. Ma Ella, as I like to call her, was a former co-worker of mine and I truly believe that the Lord used her and her prayers to get me through that semester. We chatted about life and her kids and eventually she asked if I had a boy. I told her no and used my go-to joke of "no one can afford me" to move the conversation right along.

"Well, darling, as long as you're praying for him, he'll be along shortly," was her response. I promised her I was praying for him and praying as specifically as I could.

"Good girl. Pray for that man. Pray that he loves Jesus more than you, pray that he's learning how to be the man of your relationship and learning how to be a good father to y'all's children. Whatever you do, young lady, don't you dare pray for marriage."

"Excuse me? I'm not supposed to pray for my marriage?"

"Oh, you can pray for your marriage. You can pray for the adjectives you want to describe your marriage, you can pray that the Lord makes you the person He wants you to be for your marriage, but don't pray for marriage. Don't pray for marriage because that's all you're gonna get."

Don't pray for marriage because that's all you're gonna get.

Don't pray to find someone because then he'll just be anybody.

I had Ma Ella repeat that sentence to me a few times to make sure that it really sunk in deep.

"Don't pray for marriage because then you'll just get married. Then what? Who is this person? Is this the person that you're supposed to be with? Are you the person that's most right for them? Do your dreams align and can the two of you as one work together to glorify Him?" she continued.

The wheels in my brain were spinning so quickly I was about to fall over. This blog post began to write itself!

Don't pray for marriage because that's all you're going to get.

Pray for a marriage where each of you is sacrificing yourself daily for the other person (I guess this means I may have to learn to cook --and deal with the smell of -- cauliflower). Pray for a man who is so invested in what is best for The Kingdom and for your family that when he comes to you and says, "I've made a decision," it doesn't terrify you. Pray for a man who gives thanks daily -- gratitude is the foundation of a happy heart, a happy life, a happy home. Pray for a man who understand his mission and purpose in life.

Pray for a man who can accept my independence and the fact that I've functioned extremely well by myself for the past however many years. And a man who will appreciate my passion for sequins and giggling and all the little orphan babies in the whole wide world.

But, wait, sorry, that's just my prayer.

I digress.

Gentlemen, pray for a woman who loves Jesus with everything -- her money, her clothing, her body. Pray for a woman with a career and a head on her shoulders. If she has the ability to balance a career and a social life before you, she can easily balance one with and for you. Pray for a woman with passion. Women multiply everything -- we, as a species, nurture children to become adults, we take a little flour and make a loaf of bread, we take a vase and fill it with flowers to fill an entire room with color and scent. If a woman makes your life together her passion, the church that you two invest in together her passion, the community in which the two of you live her passion, just think of the possibilities for her and for you! Pray for a woman whose dreams can become your own -- as Christ laid down his life for her, so should you. Make sure that you know whose life you are taking on for your own.

Don't pray for marriage because that's all you'll get.

Pray for everything, and then pray a little bit more.

Monday, November 4, 2013

90DoOD: Hitting the Wall

Have you ever heard the phrase "hitting the wall"? When you've been working out, you hit that wall and endorphins kick in. When you're at work and you're slaving for the man, you hit that wall and you know that you won't be productive any more that day.

You've been dating someone for a while and you've hit the wall where you need to move forward: you either need to break up or you need to get married.

Maybe that last one is just a girl thing, but regardless, it exists.

There's a wall to hit in online dating as well. You've been sending emails with some guy and he never asks for your number. You know that you really can't learn much more about him over the internet. It's time for more. You need to either hand over your number or ask for hers.

Gentlemen, this is not the girl's job to ask for your number. Be the man and either ask or hand over. It's your job as the man to steer the conversation, to guide the relationship through its proverbial waters.

It's really hard to be the girl in the "hitting the wall" scenario. You're at this impasse of Do I put myself out there and give him the cop out? or Do I stand around and twiddle my thumbs, hoping this guy will step up? Well, first off, ladies, if he's not man enough to ask/give his number, he's not man enough to lead a relationship. Keep that in mind.

Before you make the leap and hand over your number uninvited, remember that confidence can sometimes scare a guy. You might lose him (which is probably a good thing -- just sayin'!).

Men, women are attracted to confidence. I know that I've said this before, but I'm saying it again because it's never going to stop being true. Women are very, very attracted to confidence. Put yourself out there. Do something she's not expecting. If she's reacts immaturely, then she's not ready for a relationship and count this as a good thing in your life.

Even if she isn't interested, hopefully she's mature enough to handle it and you both can laugh about it later.

If she's interested, I cannot begin to describe the number of brownie points that are now in your column. Way to go!

Once you've exchanged numbers, then there's the wall where you need to meet in person. Texting/phone conversation is getting only but so far and there's a critical need for more.

I've hit this wall a handful of times. The need for a number and a need for a face-to-face meet-and-greet.

I'm currently sitting on this impasse. He has my number and we've been texting. To say that we are loooooonng overdue for a date would be an understatement. From the character that has been shown via text message, I don't think that I would date this guy long-term, but I've been given encouragement to wait and see in person. Sometimes guys don't know how to react via text message, but they have a darling little personality in person.

I'm hoping for the chance to give this guy a chance.

I was, however, asked out by a guy who I chatted with the last time I was online. He messaged me earlier this week and abruptly said, "How about that date?" We talked about possible times that we're both available but nothing has been set in stone yet -- guys, it doesn't really count until there's a plan. You always need a plan -- so we'll see if he can complete the task.

The bottom line: Don't be a wuss. If you like her, do something about it. And then continue to do something about it until you don't like her anymore.

Friday, November 1, 2013

90DoOD: Cleaning Off the Gunk!

I have discovered a new Pinterest trick: the Mr. Clean's Magic Eraser toilet bowl trick.

You throw a half of a Mr. Clean's Magic Eraser into a dirty toilet bowl overnight, and in the morning, all of the gunk in the toilet is easily scraped away. Yeah, I know that I could sprinkle toilet bowl cleaner in and then scrub it with the brush using a good amount of elbow grease, but sometimes you just have to let things sit in order to get the best result.

Sometimes silence speaks louder than words.

After a long day with my kids, I look forward to coming to my house with the only stimulation being my ceiling fan.

That's kind of where I am with online dating right now. There's a lot of negative energy coming from the dating site currently, and with school being crazy as always and the holiday season starting to gear up, I'm taking some time off. I'm still putting in my fifteen minutes a day, but I'm not responding to every single email. I'm not jumping every time my phone beeps.

This weekend I will click through a few pictures to fulfill my obligations, but I'm not going to return any emails or make any new contacts. I need a weekend off. I need to rejuvenate.

This weekend, I am going to be thankful. I am going to be thankful for the best job I could ask for. I'm going to be thankful for kiddos who say, "Miss Sandy, one of your lovelies is hurting. Can you help?" I love that they know that they're my lovelies.

I'm putting some positivity into my life and I'm being thankful this weekend.

Next weekend I'm fully planning to dive back into the project and hopefully start talking to some decent men. But for now, I'm going to let the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser pull all of the gunk and the negativity out that is crowding my soul right now.

Adventures will resume next week.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

90DoOD: A Full-Circle Moment

Today's is short, but it's full of promise for wonderful things.

I was sent a message last night by a guy I grew up with. I haven't seen him in at least five years, possibly closer to ten. 

His email wasn't the smartest or the sweetest. In fact, in most ways it was quite vulgar. However, in his email he said  he thought I was pretty -- gorgeous, actually.

This is coming from a guy whom I know for a fact said once that he would never date me because he thought I was ugly.

Girls, you know that small bit of satisfaction we get when the girl from our school's Plastic Clique has gained five pounds? Well, this satisfaction is even better.

He didn't mention anything to make me believe that he recognized me. From what I can tell, he just thinks that I'm a gorgeous (his words, not mine) stranger with an online dating account. 

My middle school self is dying because this guy has validated that my nose now kinda fits my face and those braces were really worth the money (thanks, Mom and Dad!). She's a little bit giddy because she never felt pretty, and a few people told her the same. 

Add this to the list of things that I would love to one day tell that little girl.

Monday, October 28, 2013

90 Days of Online Dating: I Have Morals.

Day: 29.

Current Mood for Online Dating: A little bit disgusted.

Interactions with Online Dating: I have had more propositions to get into a guy's bed this weekend than I ever had in my entire life. The really sad thing is that I don't even know most of these guys' names.

They would send a "hey" email and per the rules of this experience, I would send one back, despite the "this guy is weird and creepy, avert your eyes" vibe that I was getting from his profile.

His next message would be, "How you doin? U so fine. U wanna hook up tonight?" Or something even more explicit that I won't haunt your dreams with. One of us is more than enough.

It's creepy guys like this that give online dating the reputation that it currently has.

The worst proposition that I've received was from a seemingly nice guy named Carter, as we shall call him. His profile was completely blank -- this is either an orange flag, or he's new to online dating -- but his first message was intelligent, and I respond to all emails, so I sent one back.

We sent back a few bantering emails back and forth. By about his tenth email, he told me I had a beautiful smile and said that we probably shouldn't keep chatting. I, being completely confused and caught off-guard, asked why. His next email apologized, stating that the previous email was meant for someone else. We continued to chat and eventually he messaged me his number. I waited an hour (can't seem too anxious, right?) and texted him.

The banter continued via text message. He mentioned that he didn't live in Raleigh, but about half an hour outside of it, but because of a work thing, he was going to be in Downtown Raleigh tonight. He asked if I wanted to meet him for a drink after his work thing.

I pondered, and figured, "Hey, why not? Might as well figure it out early if I like him or not."

I said I would meet him and told me which establishment he wanted to meet, and asked him the time.

A few minutes later, my phone beeped.

"Meet me in the lobby of the Renaissance Hotel at North Hills at 9:00 p.m. If you can earn your keep upstairs, I'll take you out for dinner later."

After a few "you're joking, right?" text messages, he revealed that he didn't think I was a "one night stand" kind of girl, and was trying to cut off communication with the email he claimed was for another girl. When I call his hand on the abrupt email, he figured he might as well give me a shot to see my reaction.

I have since called Sprint and had his number blocked.

This is typically where I would start giving advice for the gentlemen. All of the advice that I would like to give at the moment would probably end some friendships.

Recent Interactions in Real Life: My mom's side of the family got together on Sunday to celebrate my Granny and my Uncle Barry's birthdays. It was also my sister Chloe's birthday, but she is with the NCSU Marching Band in Virginia being awesome. We feasted, as we do at all family gatherings, and I got to cuddle with my sweet nieces and play outside. Family time is the best time :)

Friday, October 25, 2013

90 Days of Dating: TGIF.

Y'all, I can't even lie to you. It's been a long week.

It's the last week of the quarter which means that us teachers have been swamped with make-up work from students who didn't care until the last minute. My team teachers and I have also had at least one meeting of some sort every day this week. This stressful week has led me to this reaction:

This photo is so kindly provided by my cousin, who found my impending mental breakdown a bit funny. He was kind enough to play with my hair for a moment, though, so I have to give him props for that. And yes, Meredith girls, those are Cornhuskin' sweatpants you see. It was casual day at school :)
Nothing exciting has been happening on the internet and too many exciting things have been happening in my classroom and I wasn't in an upbeat mood to write this blog post.
But then Katy Perry happened. And Jesus happened, too.
Let's start with Katy Perry:
This is a link to a video of the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth doing a lip dub to Katy Perry's "Roar". Roar is currently my life theme song as I'm pushing through until second quarter. I also have a soft spot for little kids with cancer. To this day, the best present I've ever received was a donation to St. Jude in my name.
If this doesn't put a smile on your face, I can't help you.
As if Katy Perry wasn't enough, Jesus popped in my mind today.
"When the whole world's against you, it's just proving that no matter what anyone thinks, says, or does, God's still for you."
My current job is the third greatest things that's ever happened to me. It's third behind Jesus and being born into my family. Yes, it has it's hard days/weeks (see top picture for example), but goodness. I have friends. I have co-workers who like being around me. I'm more supported than I could have dreamed. I literally had a friend come into my classroom today, take a stack of papers off my desk, and called back over her shoulder, "I'll be back in an hour." She knew I was stressed out and she helped fix it. That's how awesome my job is.
I went through some a-four-letter-word-that-I-won't-use-because-sometimes-my-dad-reads-my-blog to get to this job. Some serious you-know-what. But I have seen more and more each day that those were simply stepping stones to get me here. Yes, those stones were spiky, were made of lava, and had poisonous moss growing on them,  but I know how to be thankful. I am thankful for the daisies that pushed up through the poisonous moss along the way (known as a few of my awesome former co-workers) and I'm thankful that I know that I have the strength to be infected with the poison from the moss and keep climbing.
I can apply this gratitude to the fact mindset that this week it's been hard to be single. Fair week always is. I deeply want to go on a date with a sweet man who calls me his to the fair; always have, always will. Seeing couple pictures under the fireworks and the Ferris wheel does things to my heart, but Jesus is good, guys. He's so very good.
So I'm going sit in my grassy knoll of happiness, with the sun shining down on the me, and be thankful that there isn't poison ivy in my grass at this moment. I'm going to be thankful that Jesus hasn't given up on me, even if I am about to give up on the flock of humans that currently populate the online dating world. I'm going to be thankful for my students and be thankful for this fall weather. I'm going to rest easy knowing that the rough moments are the stepping stones.
I'm going to be most thankful for the fact that I know that I'm never alone.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

90 Days of Online Dating: Questions.

I went to Beirut, Lebanon in 2010. Saying that the experience changed my life would be an understatement, but for time's sake, we're just going to have to leave it at that. While we were there, the twelve of us that traveled together were basically all we had. We made friends while we were there, of course, but our whole lives revolved around the eleven people that were with us.

We started this thing we called "The Hot Seat" early on in our travels. One of us would sit on our little yellow loveseat and would have to answer any question that one of our teammates threw at us.

I, personally, loved it. I love talking about myself (shocker!) and I love to be the center of attention; The Hot Seat was right up my alley.

Dating is mighty close to The Hot Seat. This person keeps looking at you (assuming they have decent interpersonal communicational skills) and they are asking you all these questions.

The problem is, a lot of people seem lost on appropriate first-date conversation topics.

Never fear. eHarmony is here!

eHarmony (which is not the dating site on that I'm on) has posted the fifteen best questions to ask on a date to get to know the other person (Don't believe, go here).

1. Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
2. What kinds of things really make you laugh?
3. What's your favorite place in the entire world?
4. Who is your best friend? What do you like about him/her?
5. Favorite movie of all time? Why so?
6. What's your biggest goal in life right now?
7. What is your favorite way to spend a Saturday?
8. Do you have any pet peeves?
9. What was your family like growing up?
10. What were you like as a kid?
11. What should I know about you that I'd never think to ask about?
12. Did you -- or do you -- have a nickname? What is it and what's the story behind it?
13. Who was your favorite schoolteacher or college professor? Why?
14. Have you figured out your calling in life? What is it?
15. What do you hate most about the dating process? (Tell me so that I may avoid it!)

As you're all pondering over these, I figured I might would take a stab at them. The online process is currently slow and nothing to waste your time over. Now, as the eHarmony advice states, one must peel back the layers and not stab the onion, so I'm only going to do #1 today. We'll save the rest for a rainy day.

1. Who has been the biggest influence in your life?

The "who" in this question is not singular, but plural. I would have to save that my family as a unit has been the biggest influence on me. When I was growing up, I didn't think much of the blessing that is my family -- many of my friends had siblings they were close to and a good number of my friends also had nearby aunts and uncles. Whenever I heard from a friend that they only saw their cousin at Christmas, it would shock me: that's not how families work! Families should be all up in each other's business. The kids should be playing outside while the adults are gossiping and catching up on the screened-in porch.

I didn't realize how much of a fairyland I was growing up in.

The closeness of my family hardwired me to be a part of unit. I consequently think in "we" instead of "I". This has enabled me to work well with many close friendships and even be able to maintain friendships across state lines. Because of the constant interaction of people, I feel that I can handle a myriad of personalities; I'm probably related to an identical one like any new one that I come across. I know that I am never alone and I know that someone always has my back, and somewhere, even if I have to shuffle past a family member or two, I can find support and a shoulder to lean on.

I took the closeness of my family for granted for years. Now that we're older and we're starting to scatter a bit (the cousins in particular), I look forward to holidays even more for a higher chance of us all being in the same room. My soul feels depleted when I haven't seen my cousins in a while.

My family, all of us, immediate and distant, has shaped the person I am today.

Monday, October 21, 2013

90 Days of Online Dating: My Dating Philosophy

Here is my philosophy on dating: There is no such thing as going on too many dates.

When my siblings and I were growing up, my parents demanded that we had a summer job every year from the time we turned fifteen. It gave us purpose, helped us learned financial responsibility, and we were never bored in the summertime. While we were going through the application/interview process, they told us often that there was no such thing as too many interviews. Interview experience is great! Many interviews ask the same questions, and the more you go through, the easier it becomes to answer the questions asked of you. By the time we started looking for Big Kid jobs, I knew exactly what I was getting myself into.

Dating is kind of like this. As you go on more dates, you figure out which anecdote to tell and what keeps your audience captivated. You learn which foods are okay to order (spaghetti is a no!) and how to expertly check your teeth for residue while still sitting at the table using the pocket mirror you stashed in your purse so you never have to leave the table.

You also begin to learn how to phrase certain questions and the answers that you expect from your date. Just a heads up, I found that the question, “Tell me about your religious beliefs,” should never be answered with, “Jesus is a great guy.” That’s an orange flag if I ever saw one.

Good dates lead to second dates.

Bad dates lead to great stories for friends later.

I’ve been asked on a few dates recently. I’m still deciding if I want to say yes or not. None of these guys really strike me with the potential of something long-term. However, a few of them may be worth a shot just to tune up my dating skills. Either way, I’ll let you know what happens!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

90 DoOD: The 18-Year-Old

Strap on your seatbelts, children, I'm hopping on my soapbox.

An 18-year-old messaged me the other day. I was mortified. Absolutely mortified. 

I was mortified because I felt like a cradle robber and I was sure that at any moment the FBI was going to come knocking on my door and accuse me of awful things.

Once I calmed my imagination down, I was mortified for another reason: This guy is eighteen.

I don't know if he was in high school or college (it's crazy to think that I have students older than this kid). I don't know if he was lying about his age -- from the looks of him he could easily be younger. I don't know why he messaged me or what got into him. But I do know that my heart broke for him.

My heart was broken because I truly felt that because a guy at such a perfect age was attempting to meet women online, then it was for one of two reasons. The first, he was just looking for a piece and thought this would be an easy way to get it. The second, he has either no self-confidence in getting a girl or no man in his life to show him how. I'm not sure which makes me hurt worse.

The two emails that we exchanged brought me nothing but heartache. My heart aches for his generation (I know that I could easily be lumped into his generation, but not today) in general. The more time I spend with my students, former and present, and the more I hear stories of what is coming out of these kids, my heart breaks more. I'm not sure who to be more upset with: my generation/the generation above us for slapping these children for their decisions, or that generation for their own stupidity.

Either way, I'm upset at the world and my heart is hurting.

If you're younger than me, this post is for you.

To the 18-year-olds of the world. To the younger than 18-year-olds of the world. To my kids. To whoever might be reading this:

Make better choices.

No, really, I don't care what choices you're making right now. More than likely, there's better ones that you could be making. 

Go read a book. Truth be told, I don't care what kind of book, but preferably one without pictures. Go play outside. Grab a friend a find a park and swing on a swing for an hour. 

Whatever you do, get off your tookis. 

Child, the decisions you make in this moment will last you forever. I know that sounds dramatic, but I swear to you it's true. An underage drinking ticket sounds like a great story to tell when you're 40, but how do you plan to tell that story in the interview with your potential employer?

Oh, you plan to make it in the music industry and hit it big?

Yeah, I feel you. I was going to be an actress. I was going to light up the movie screen and people were going to love me. They weren't going to think that I laughed too loudly, they were going to think it's endearing. I was going to star next to some really smokin' hot guys and we were going to have illicit affairs during our taping (nothing too scandalous of course, a girl does have morals). Then I decided to be a writer. A writer who lived in Spain and drank cappacinos at an outdoor cafe while she wrote. 
Alas, I became a teacher. And you know what? I wouldn't trade it for the world. 

You wanna know what else? If even a single compromising picture of me popped up on the internet, I could lose my job forever. No questions asked, no explanations wanted. 

These selfies that you think are funny with just you in a sports bra in the bathtub? They're not sexy. They're pornography. Soft core, yes, but pornography nonetheless. And although you'll get some wrinkles (tiny ones, but they're still there) before you're 25 and you'll probably dye your hair a few times, you're still gonna look like you.

You think that SnapChat is only being seen by one person? Don't be naive.
You think your Instagram is locked and only people you allow to see it can? Don't be stupid.
You think that nasty text message to the girl you really can't stand will go away with a click of a button? I refuse to even dignify that with a response.

When I was eighteen I was nursing a broken heart given to me by a guy whom I wouldn't currently touch with a ten-foot pole. You think you're in love? It gets better. I swear it. The heartbreaks get worse, too, but, oh, does love evolve as you get older. Don't sell yourself short.

Here's what I'm learned in my six years since then, dear 18-year-olds: life goes on, and it gets a hell of a lot better. 

Heartbreaks happen. Let it feel like the end of the world for a few days. It's okay. But then get up, go to Ulta, and get yourself some smacking good lipstick to show that guy what he lost.

An education is irreplacable. Wars have been fought over whether or not someone can be educated. You get it for free. Don't take that for granted.

The body you're in is the only body you're gonna get. Take good care of it. French fries and ice cream are simple ways that God shows us He loves us, but He takes care of us with asparagus and green grapes. Floss at least once a week, stretch at least three times a week, and make sure you can run a mile in under 13 minutes (and that's the time for uphill).

Travel the whole world. See as much of it as you can. Live off of your parents as long as you can or until you're 25. While you're living off your parents, get a part-time job and save every single penny. Always buy a used car and never give yourself a car payment.

Your first credit card should be in your wallet at 20 and you should pay off the entire bill every month. "Lowest amount due" is for lazies and losers. Lazies and losers end up in debt and very, very sad.

Go to college and meet every single person on that campus. There's no such thing as knowing too many people. Feel free to meet a special someone, but make sure you find a couple of life-long friends, too. Marriage at 22 isn't guaranteed (and I can attest that being single at 24 is basically awesome) and eventually you'll have a diploma and people will expect you to provide for yourself; you better have a way to do it. And life is always better with people by your side.

Never accept charity, but feel free to allow someone to take you out to dinner every now and again.

Don't complain about money troubles. We all have them and we don't want to be reminded of them. Take your frugal month as a lesson and remember to keep a hefty bank account. 

Do something you swore you would never do like move to the Middle East for the summer. You'll never regret it and it's a great conversation starter at the weird office parties you're forced to go to when you grow up.

Get off the internet, kiddos. Do something! Do something big. If I had started doing all the things that I want to do in my life when I was 18, I think I would be close to done by now.

Get off the internet for your entertainment. Put down the video game. Get the earbuds out of your ears and sit down with a random person at a coffee shop and start a conversation. Walk up to someone who is wayyy out of your league and give them your number. Learn to flirt and to dress for your body type. When you dress for your body type, make sure you cover your boobs, pull up your pants, and never ever wear leggings as pants. Whilst in the company of the opposite sex, keep all clothing on your person until you're married. You won't regret it. You'll only regret the opposite.

Gentlemen, find a woman. Women are tough as nails and as feminine as lace. They're complicated and will make you crazy, but they're worth it. When you've got one that makes you smile and wants to learn to cook your favorite food and gives you a little bit of a feeling like you've done something sneaky and haven't gotten caught for it yet, keep her.

Ladies, wait for a gentlemen. If he's not everything you've ever prayed for, he's not the one for you. If you can keep eye contact for more than three seconds without going numb all over your body, there's better waiting. Keep your hair and your teeth brushed and make sure your shoes match. Learn to tell a joke and do a decent hair flip. 

Whoever you are, learn to write a check and how to check your oil. Be proficient at cleaning a house and making spaghetti. Learn to bite your tongue and how to sincerely apologize. Learn that apologies are better served with actions and not just words.

Think positive thoughts and say only kind words. Positivity is remembered and cherished. Never speak ill of a coworker and certainly never put anything on social media when you're upset. Call your mama at least once every three days and go home for the holidays. 

Learn to dream. Then figure out how to make those dreams a reality.

Above all, love yourself. There's only one you. Think you don't matter? Remember this: you're the reason that your teacher gets out of the bed in the morning. Hug her when you get to school, she probably needs it. ;)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

90 Days of Dating: The 21-Year-Old

Day: 17.

Mood: Surprised. Is that a good word? It’s the word I’m going to go with.

Online Interaction of the Day: I deeply offended a 21-year-old. Let me tell you about it.

I don’t even know his real name to make a fake name for him, so I’m going to call him The 21-Year-Old.

The 21-Year-Old messaged me. His message was simple: you’re pretty and I would like to get to know you.

What struck me as really funny was that he sent me a message at 11:30 a.m.and said that I was probably still asleep. I don’t know about you guys, but I can’t sleep past 9:00 a.m. I’m usually up by8:00 a.m. and it really depresses me. The fact that he thought that 11:30 a.m.was still time to be sleeping was a bigger red flag than his age.

As I have promised myself that I would reply to every message, I thanked him for the compliment  and explained that I couldn’t sleep in.

His reply back: “Yeah, I know how you feel. Your schedule is not so different from mine. In fact, it’s quite similar. I generally work 9-5 on the weekdays and I’m off on the weekends.”

Even now, typing this, I’m feeling some grumpiness creeping up in my heart. I’m going to apologize in advance if the next paragraph savors of bitterness.

No, 9-5 is not my schedule. 6:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. is my schedule five days a week. I’m typically in bed by 9:00 that I can wake up by 5:00 a.m. and be ready to take on the kiddos for another day. I’ve only had a handful of “weekends off” the in last few years (excluding summer time) because teachers bring home their work because there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. If you’re a teacher, you understand the bitterness. If you’re not, I beg you to never compare your life to that of a teacher’s. You will probably lose a friend.

Also, dear, if you have to try to convince someone that you’re in the same stage of life as they are, then you’re really not.

Okay. Rant over. I’m going to try to allow the grumpiness to seep out of my heart now.

A little fact about me: I’m a romantic. I love the candlelight and the  moonlight and walks through the gardens and whatever else romance novelist can spin on a girl. I’m all about it. However, I believe as Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice does: “Of a fine stout love, [poetry may be the food]. But if it is only a vague inclination I’m convinced one poor sonnet will kill it stone dead.” Well, friends, I only had but a vague inclination and his poor sonnet killed even that stone dead.

The 21-Year-Old tried to feed me some line about “my eyes sparkling in the moonlight” and how they’re “protruding my beauty for all to see.” Bless his heart, he couldn’t have known this, but the word “protruding” really freaks me out. However, these words would have made me happy if I had been attracted to him at all and if I didn’t think this was a play to get on my good side because of my “English teacher” status.

I wrote back to him that I appreciate his poetry, but it just wasn’t working for me. I told him that the world protruding freaks me out (I literally shudder every time I write it here) and that since none of my pictures were taken at night that I had a really hard time believing him about the whole moonlight thing.

His response: You may be a teacher, but you need a lesson on romance. My words were meant as a compliment, not for you to critique them.

My response: No offense, dear.

His response: I’m not one of your students; so please don’t try and give me a lecture. And it wasnt a poem . It was like 2 sentences. I can write poetry. I don’t need you to tell me how

No, dear, you don’t, but apparently you do need me to teach you how to use a semi-colon.

In my return email, I told him that no, he wasn’t one of my students, and I apologize if he felt treated like such, though I do have students older than him. I thanked him for his kindness and wished him a good day.

Reflection: Does this interlude make me sound snarky? Probably. There’s a whole lot of adjectives that it probably makes me sound. This guy was doomed from the very beginning: younger than me, a kiss up with the whole poetry thing, shorter than me. Baby couldn’t win.

I’m tired of not having a winner. It makes me sigh.


On Friday, I get to tell you about the 18-year-old who messaged me. I know you’re excited.