Tuesday, May 31, 2016

An Irresistible Topic: On-Line Dating

I have been "in a relationship" or "married" since before on-line dating was a thing. I learned about it through friends who have used it to meet men. One friend married a man she met on-line. Another met a man who took her to Europe for two weeks, treated her like it was their honeymoon, and then dumped her the moment they returned. Her feelings were hurt, sure, but after she wiped the third or fourth tear from her cheek, she went right back on-line, and I swear I could hear her shout, "NEXT!" 

My friends had become the casting directors of their own lives, auditioning and selecting from a seemingly endless line-up of potential leading men.  I could only imagine how empowering it must have felt for them to no longer have to wait for fate to smile down and cook up their next serendipitous encounter with some random guy.

Yes of course I envied their easy access to so many suitors. Some were creeps, sure, but others were not. The sea, apparently, is teeming with fish. 

Our mating rituals have become very high-tech. However, paradoxically, (or perhaps only ironically), that same technology has transformed modern mating ritual into something that looks very old.  The current dating scene is a cross between a Jane Austen novel and the practical customs associated with arranged marriages. 

(Clearly, I'm not referring here to Tinder and other hook-up sites.) 

From what I hear, today's mating ritual goes something like this:

First, you lay out the supposed facts about yourself in your on-line profile--providing information that any matchmaker in India or Pakistan would need to report back to the parents of your prospective brides. These are very practical matters, such as: Are you healthy? Are you gainfully employed?  Are you allergic to cats?

If you meet basic criteria, and the prospective bride finds you attractive, she will give you a wink. Yes, a wink! Or perhaps an emailed note. A note!  How quaint! 

You may choose to acknowledge or ignore her wink, as you regard the image of her face--just as a king would want to set eyes on the painted portrait of Austria's proposed princess--her likeness encased in a jewel-encrusted locket.

If there's mutual interest at this point, you exchange more notes via email. This can go on for quite some time before someone proposes taking the next step, which is to meet for coffee in a public place. 

(In my day, someone would have already taken the walk of shame and would now be watching the phone intently as though it were a pot of not-boiling water.) 

If coffee is a great success, phone numbers might be exchanged, and that's no small step. You know how personal and significant phones are now. It's the same as giving someone the keys to your home or car. 

Moreover, you know you're taking a chance that your potential mate will start texting you obsessively. Yes, lunch is the next step, but only if you can agree that you're able to have a balanced texting relationship. Texts can be witty, and that can be amusing; or, it can be exhausting. The expectation of wit raises the specter of failure and ridicule. Maybe you're not witty, maybe you're corny and cute.  You really need to find someone who thinks that your cutesy texts (larded with hearts and emoticons) are adorable. 

So okay, you've established a workable texting rapport, and now, lunch. OMG, suddenly you're supposed to speak extemporaneously while simultaneously eating??? That's some crazy pressure.

By the way, at what point in this process does a woman dare to show a little ankle?  This is beyond Victorian, really. It's applying to college.

Recently, a friend of ours, I'll call him Buck, had a change in relationship status. He is available now, and cautiously seeking women for friendship and possibly more. 

He let me read his on-line profile, as well as some of the profiles of the women who "winked" at him to express their interest in a possible coffee.

Eagerly, I looked at the profiles of Buck's potential beloveds.  I saw a woman with a doctorate in philosophy begin her profile with the sentence, "I am slender." And the rest of the ones I saw were no different. They were all like this: 

This horse is People say I am an extremely well mannered boy person with amazing gaits traits, and a willing to learn try anything once attitude. He  I would be a perfect horse companion for beginner to intermediate dressage sports, as he I always takes care of myself and my friends his rider. He picks up his next hoof for picking before you even get there I love camping and will probably have the tent pitched before you even get there.  and he loves I love to learn new things. He has Friends tell me I have so much more potential than I have time for, and he will be look fantastic for many years to come. He has I have had extensive professional English training in Breckenridge at university.  - 

"Shiloh" Everywhere I go - “Q” I always gets compliments on how handsome he is pretty I am. He’s I have a gorgeous, dappled bay tan, 17hh 2009 thoroughbred gelding, and I'm rather tall and slender at 5'8" and 128 pounds. He has I have an amazing personality and loves people and other horses animals. No vices, very attentive and fast learner. Very sound healthy, and he has I have good, sturdy conformation. love to run the Tough Mudder. He's I'm up to date on everything. He trailers, clips, blankets, grooms well and is great for the farrier and the vet. I enjoy a wide range of activities and especially a day at the spa. He is a forward ride and will happily both collect up or go long and low, and is very responsive to both leg and hand. I believe that good communication between two people is extremely important. 

As an English Major myself, (reference Garrison Keillor), I am supposed to be very seductive on-line...but we'll never know.  Assuming that I would be, I have some advice for writing on-line dating profiles: Don't describe yourself as a horse. But if you must describe yourself as a horse in order to catch a man, do your research and choose the breed of horse that describes you best. 

For example, I could describe myself as an American Quarter Horse. I'm sorrel (red hair) and rather hot (which means I'm nervous and temperamental). I am proportionally low to the ground and powerfully built. I'm smart, learn fast, and I'm hard working. I used to be agile and quick, and though I'm not ready to be put out to pasture, these days I mostly graze and ruminate and stroll about. Having a lot of turn-out time is important to me; I don't like to be cooped up. Apartment life would be a deal breaker. Don't fence me in. Dogs are okay. Cats are fine. No lions or bears need apply.  

Women who are sleek, have long legs, are fussier and more temperamental than even I am might see themselves as Thoroughbreds. Sure, they're gorgeous (and fast), but they can be prima donnas.  And they're always breaking down physically or emotionally.  (To be honest, they don't usually live very long.) Thoroughbreds are frequently exploited for their beauty and talent, so while they are admittedly fabulous, they are frequently tragic. If you want to hook up with a Thoroughbred or to be a Thoroughbred, good luck to you.

There are many breeds of horses, and choosing the right one for you can really bring your on-line profile into focus. 

If you can't see yourself as a horse, then you probably have a stubborn sense of self esteem.  Try to push that, and everything else that makes you unique and human, out of your mind. 

If you want to hook a man, pick a horse.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Nothing to Worry About: The Global Sugar Conspiracy

Food.  Let's talk about food. I have so many other things to do, let's talk about food.

So, in terms of genetic endowment, my husband is the ultimate trust-fund kid. His parents are old enough to be my parents' parents. Yet Phil is only one year older than me. Yes, his mother gave birth to him when she was 48. Can you imagine?  Then you can imagine what a surprise it was when, two years later, his younger brother came along. What started out as one thing turned out to be Dave.

When Phil applied for life insurance, he got the coveted gold standard reserved for people who will never die.

Phil's resting heart rate is that of a marathon runner. No, he doesn't run. He doesn't even like aerobic exercise. His heart just doesn't want to beat that fast.

So, let me ask you this: Why does Phil obsess about diabetes?  He doesn't have diabetes. His parents were diagnosed with adult-onset diabetes in their late seventies. And his mother is 96.  Phil is 51. He can eat whatever the heck he wants.

But he's obsessed with diabetes.  And with documentaries that tell him that sugar is the main ingredient in an enormously powerful global conspiracy.  How many global conspiracy sugar documentaries can one person watch?  Phil has watched four or five. That's a lot of helpings of global sugar conspiracy.  And the message is always the same: Sugar is worse than crack cocaine.

Just last night he sat down to watch one of these things...while eating a salted caramel ice cream sandwich! (Surprisingly, only 17 grams of sugar--less than a fruit-flavored yogurt with 28 - 30 grams of sugar).

Because my son doesn't want to be shamed by his father at the breakfast table, he has voluntarily given up tasty cereal. He now eats cereal featuring dehydrated strawberries, just like your grandmother ate, if she let her strawberries dehydrate in the August sun, instead of using the plump, juicy fruit to make strawberry preserves, or strawberry-rhubarb pie, (with all of that hateful refined sugar).

Grandma and sugar: Two parts of a global conspiracy that will definitely give you diabetes.

My family has heart disease. We don't get the top-tier life insurance plan.

My grandfather used to drink milk and Pepsi (together in the same glass).  It was nonfat milk, but it wasn't Diet Pepsi. He also ate fudgsicles, because they were fat free--but they weren't sugar free.

He wasn't going to get diabetes. He was going to have a heart attack. He had Mallamars, those delicious marshmallow-graham cracker-chocolate cookies, concealed in a kitchen drawer. (No fat. Sugar.) For a special treat, he would indulge in iced-milk bars, which were  ice cream bars made with non-fat milk. Yuck. But thanks to sugar, they were pretty tasty.

Of course, nonfat milk is out, now; full-fat milk is in. Margarine is out; butter is in. Bread is out; meat is in.

I'm suspicious of the new regime, because I'm probably going to have a heart attack.

When our French friend told us that heavy whipping cream was not heavy enough and introduced us to creme fraîche, my hand trembled as I held  the small tub of dairy lard as if it were radon.  Every mouthful of velvety sauce made from creme fraîche was like Russian Roulette for me, except every chamber of the gun had a bullet in it that would detonate in my heart in fifteen to twenty years. Still, I enjoyed the sauce, because I am able to suspend disbelief.

My father used to go on diets, and when he went on diets, I went on diets. His tortured feelings about food became my tortured feelings about food. And my husband's terrible obsession with sugar and diabetes have already become my twelve-year-old son's deep sense of doom and gloom about sugar and diabetes.

Personally, I think that obsessing and worrying is more dangerous than food. I associate early heart attacks with a certain intensity of personality.  I am  wary of feeling overwrought in that way--angry or consumed by anything that makes me want to literally tear my chest open.

My greatest vulnerability is not diet so much as emotional intensity.  I have had to learn where to draw the line.

There are certain topics I choose not to discuss because they set off an emotional chain reaction that is roughly equivalent to two whole beef patties special sauce cheese pickles lettuce onions and a sesame seed bun. Supersized.

I wish my kid wouldn't worry about diabetes, because he's not going to get diabetes, so there's really no point to worrying about it.  I would rather he worry about being prepared for a piano recital or a test at school. Worrying is an important survival tool. I would be the first to extol its virtues. With worrying, as with food, you have to make good choices. His father chooses to worry about diabetes, and that's fine, because he enjoys his global sugar conspiracy documentaries with his ice cream, and that's not going to give him a heart attack.  But Josh already worries a lot.  He has some of my genes, and some of my intensity. He's got to learn not to worry too much.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Chronic and Dithering

All of a sudden, healthy cereal and granola bars trigger a series of unfortunate events in my body.

I have a new litany of discomforts and complaints--a daily low-grade fever by noon that resolves around supper time. I'm neither sick nor healthy, and I'm pretty sure I'm not dying or a raving hypochondriac--although I wouldn't rule out either as a possibility.

 I secretly enjoy the daily quiet time in bed surrounded by cats and dogs. I work on my French with You Tube video tutorials. I'm writing this on my tablet from bed. My temp is 100 and I have a headache...but I'm soldiering on, because if this is going to be an every-day thing, I'm going to have to adapt, be productive, and multi-task while resting.

I refuse to let this devolve into a journal of woes. I haven't got anything wrong with me that is tragic or curious. It's chronic and stupid; it insists on naps and layers of sunscreen. It's unsubstantiated by lab results--my auto-immune thing wants nothing to do with this lowly condition.

I research my symptoms on-line and find nothing but scrolls of ranting over symptoms without measurable cause or concern, ailments for which medication is dispensed that cures in two days for only two weeks.

Most people have chronic pain of one kind or another. Knees, hips, mended bones, allergies, lactose/glucose intolerance, migraines, plantar fasciitis, arthritis...not to mention emotional pain or even the pursuit of pain and suffering through strenuous exercise. Feel the burn. The climate, physically and politically, is illing, so why shouldn't I?

It's a borderline thing--more condition than disease. And frankly, I don't want to spend my best hours of the day obsessively researching it. It would be more like bickering than fighting. It's the chronic yet not acute malaise that the AMA treats with a shrug--because they don't know what it is, but it's nothing more than an inconvenience to me. People aren't going to march in the streets for something as vague as a generalized allergy--a disagreeable response to granola bars and the infinitesimally small insults to my physiognomy on such a sunny day.

So, things don't get done sometimes. Everybody eats. I take some time out of the day to dither, idly wondering if it's still necessary to dither or has it simply become a bad habit. This would definitely be a problem if I had an office job. Fortunately, I don't.

More's the pity for anyone with some chronic medical mystery if they can't step away from the treadmill when they need to  (like pregnant women and women with cramps who must never complain or show weakness, lest they bring down the entire feminist movement--that's a lot of pressure!).

I'm fine. I just need to rest, like the cat who keeps me in good company. She has no excuse for needing as much sleep as she takes, but she doesn't reproach herself, not once. Fight it, kitty! Fight!  ...She isn't even listening...so shamelessly content to be asleep!

My Life Updates READ NOW

"MyLife Updates" pops up in my email.

"Jessica, you may have a new review. See if an old friend, colleague, or ex has something GOOD or BAD to say about you."


(I tap on the link.)

(It's scanning.)

2 men and 1 woman are "searching" for me.

I'm here! 

OMG, they are so lost if they're looking for me there. I should throw them a rope. 

"Jessica, people are looking at your LinkedIn profile. (1 view.)"


(I tap on the link.)

"You don't have any profile views--yet!"


"LinkedIin is faster on our mobile app. Get it now."


"Jessica, there may be a NEGATIVE RECORD on your background report."


"3 people are viewing your background report."

How do I find my background report?

"See if there are mistakes on your background report."

Where is my background report? I can't find it...

"3 people are viewing your background report, including your finances."

Are they the same 3 people who were searching for me? The 2 men and 1 woman?

"Your public rating has been updated."

What is my public rating? Who has access to it? Who is updating it? What are people saying about me? Is it the 2 men and the woman? 

Jessica, new jobs for you:
 (I swear this is real.)
1. Research Analyst 
2. Senior Research Accountant 
3. Research Manager 
4. Director, Market Research
5. Senior research scientist, neuroscience 
6. Receptionist/mail clerk
7. Research technologist
8. Research scientist 

Jessica, 5 new jobs waiting for you!
1. Marine biologics, shark tank
2. Research scientist urban dictionary's small farms division
3. Esthetician, mostly feet
4. Roadkill scrapings & analytics
5. Astro-receptionist International Space Station

Jessica, remember Bob? Bob is searching for you. He is deep in your financials. He knows where you live. He has updated your profile report several times. He's driving to your house. There's a guy and a woman with him. They're a little lost. Okay, they made a u-turn and now they're headed in the right direction. They're turning into your driveway. A feisty dog is running toward the car, barking like mad. Bob is looking dubious. He's rolling down the window a tiny bit. The woman is handing him a piece of paper. Bob is searching the glove compartment for a pen. The second man pulls out a gun and aims it at the dog. Bob is saying, We're not here to shoot the dog, Doug, so put that away. The woman hands Bob a pen. Bob writes something on the paper, a note. Then he carefully folds it a few times, and now, Jessica, the note is aerodynamic. He opens the window a smidgen more, and the dog goes berserk (border collie/Lab, 53 pounds). The note glides on the air straight and true, landing precisely at your feet where you stand, peering down your driveway toward the car--toward Bob.

You pick up the note--but you don't realize that it's a note, and you launch it back into the air, toward Bob, and the other man, and the one woman, and the dog.