I Don’t Belong Here

When I was dating in my youth, we didn’t have texting and online dating. We were rejected the old-fashioned way–in person. (And honestly, to call my social activity pre-marriage as dating is a stretch. Stalking may be more appropriate, but that’s not relevant here.) So, as my dear friend Christine pointed out, I’m not only diving back into the dating scene, I’ve had to adjust to a whole new pool.

On paper, online dating seems like a good idea. You can take your time crafting your profile and enhancing your pictures before releasing your bio to the world. And the beauty of the internet is the anonymity. Yes you are putting your picture and various details about yourself out there, but no one has to see your face in real time. No one has to hear your awkward laugh. You can seek companionship in your jammies or on your lunch break with no cover charge or loud music. (Old. Yes, I’m old.)

However, in moving online dating from idea to reality, we forgot about the DudeBros and the Good Ol boys. We did not account for the Thousand-dollar Millionaires or as they are known for the over 35 set, the Self-Employed. And we never even imagined there would exist the Delusionists who are 45 year-olds claiming to want to get married and have kids some day.

*Disclaimer* Obviously #notallmen ruin online dating.

So, if you’re a woman who feels like joining one of the many online sites or apps that promise to make dating easy and safe, let me save you some trouble deciphering the profiles of the men you may want to avoid. That way you can just focus on the ones who are genuine and kind. The men who are just as terrified as you to put their heart out there hoping for the best.

And if you’re a man working the Tinder scene, you’re welcome for this warning of what not to do.

Red Flags:

  • Hugging juggy women in their photos: Um, why are you chatting with me? Looks like you’re all set in the dating department.
  • Having a form of ‘Sexy’ in their profile name: Self-explanatory.
  • Gym Selfies: One or two is okay, especially if they look super uncomfortable in them as if they regret it. However, if there are 5 or more you’ve probably got yourself a DudeBro. If they are all of his stomach, and he’s making a tough-guy face while clearly wearing too much product in his fauxhawk, you’ve got their king.
  • Vote for Donald Trump filter on their picture: Maybe try to meet up with them to figure out if they are a bigot or a misogynist or both.
  • Over 40 and claiming to want to get married and have kids some day: It’s possible he just wants to ease the minds of single moms. He’s saying, “It’s cool, I’m totes not afraid of commitment. I just haven’t had one before now.” Maybe he just doesn’t understand the realities of fertility over the age of 35. But it’s also possible he’s only looking for a 25 year-old.
  • Occupation is listed as Entrepreneur: Again, this could be honest. It could also mean he hops from job to job as various friends claim to have these great money-making ideas. He may also live in his car.
  • Opening chat is, “Hey, you want to meet?”: I, for one, am much more likable in person. (Shut up. I am.) Maybe he’s feeling this way too? Maybe he needs an excuse to just get out of the house and give it a try. It’s also possible he wants something else that will be over in three minutes.

In addition, there are some standard profile descriptions you need to learn how to decode:

  • “No baggage” = “Once I date a girl and get what I want, I never see her again, so you’ll never have to worry about my exes. I don’t even remember their names.”
  • “Not looking for drama”=”I really can’t handle ’emotions’ or ‘needs’ or ‘women’.”
    • When women say this it means they don’t ever want to see a picture or name of another woman anywhere on your phone or that bitch will get cut.
  • “Love to travel”=”Everyone says this, so I’ll post these pics of that awesome Spring Break in Cabo and hope no one notices I was 19 at the time.”
  • “People say I’m kind and funny”=”People is a general term for my parents and the girls at work who I trap in the break room to ask for help with my social life.”
  • “I just want to have fun and see what happens.”=”I’m just here for sex.”

Don’t forget to tailor your profile to meet the most common desired stats of women being sought: adventurous (What does this mean? Are you asking me to compete on The Amazing Race? Because I’m in.), into fitness, and drama free. I’m pretty sure declaring yourself rich and available for bankrolling travel would help too.

For a while I thought this was my life path.

For a while I thought this was my life path.

Some other advice I can give you is to know yourself. If you think the NRA should be labeled a hate group, go ahead and skip the profiles of guys in camo holding a dead animal. It’s cool; he’s not for you. He’ll find his match. And so will you if you stick to what you know you need in your life. A wise friend advised, “Know what you expect out of this before you start.” It makes it much easier to decide if you’ll swipe right or swipe left. If it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t. If you’re just answering an email to be polite, don’t. Take care of your heart through the whole process and be brutally honest.

It’s going to be okay; there are nice people you connect with out there. They just may be in a different pool.

Summers Off

Sunday night sadness has plagued me since I was in middle school. The dread, the worry, the fear. And I’m not the only one. This very night many of you sit on the couch wondering where the weekend went and how much work will be thrown your way tomorrow. Work that is in addition to the to-do list you didn’t complete last week.

But on this glorious Sunday, I have very little angst for the week ahead. (I always have some angst; I am me after all.) Tonight the work demons rest because I am on summer break. Summer break is glorious, and I’m not afraid to say it.

Well, I’m a little afraid because it makes you hate me.

Summer break is the deal-breaker when people try to have sympathy for teachers. They get so close–low pay, no respect, being forced to teach to the test–but then they can’t shake that one perk–having all summer off. But it’s not really a full three months we yell! I do professional development during the summer! It’s not a time for me to put my feet up and chill!

Except it is.

But you know why I deserve it? I deserve it because every year I take on upwards of 130 new souls. Every year I meet over 130 new students. But it’s not just that I meet them. It is my sincere goal to get to know all of them. To give them as personalized an education as one woman can give 130 different minds. To give them chance after chance to do their best. To bring out the writer hiding inside them. To combat a previous teacher who told them they weren’t good enough. To show them how awesome the power of words is.

Yes, I chose this job, and yes, I knew it would be a lot of work. Having loved so many teachers in my school years, I knew what it would take to be a good one. What it takes is a passion for the subject. It takes expertise in the teacher’s chosen subject. The teachers who do the job with success want students to get just a small spark of the fire of knowledge. All it takes for a good teacher is a tiny flame. That teacher can turn that into a fire before the kid even knows what hits them. Real teachers want students to feel noticed. Their actions tell each and every kid, “I see you. You matter.”

And this kind of dedication takes its toll on a person. I feel the hearts of 130 kids join my heartbeat every year. I worry about them when I get home. I ask other teachers for advice on how to get through to them. I frantically change lesson plans before class starts knowing after grading yesterday’s work that they need something other than what I planned.

I don’t dump these kids after the school year either. I hold them in my heart, and they still take up space in my worry cabinet (okay, it’s a whole room, a room of worries). Once you’re one of my kids, you’re one of my kids.

Listen, I’m not saying my job is the hardest one in the world. I think what I face is a concern for anyone whose ‘product’ is people. (Remind me later to rant and cuss about people who compare business practices to teaching practices.) Caring for people requires so much energy that sometimes I don’t believe I can do it. Sometimes I want to just not care, but I can’t. It’s not who I am as a teacher.

Yeah, I get summers off, and tonight is the least stressful one I’ve had in months. But trust me, you want me to get this rest. You want me ready to take on the new souls who need me next year because every school year ends with me spent, empty of my gift.

But summer, glorious summer, fills me up again, makes me want to take on my new challenges. So please, let me have this time. It’s more important than you can ever know.

My Work Squad

My Work Squad


Writer’s Block

Little girls often dream of being ballerinas when they grow up. I was hooked the first time I saw the Sugarplum Fairy glitter her way across The Nutcracker stage. Since we lived in the suburbs of San Francisco, my mom even looked into enrolling me in the San Francisco Ballet School but realized the transportation issues alone were ridiculous not to mention the cost was prohibitive–as in we’d never eat again. Still, I danced for over 20 years. I had a teacher who at one point offered to go to New York with me to help me learn the audition process. (It’s okay if you don’t believe me. More than likely you’ve seen me struggle with sitting safely.)

I loved dancing, still do. I was pretty good, and with more work and dedication maybe a life performing would have been possible. But one thing kept me from pursuing a career on Broadway–fear of rejection. When starting a new venture, I really do believe in my heart that the position or honor I seek is within my grasp. I never start playing what I can’t win. (And yet I lose ALL the time.) I guess I’ve seen too many movies where the quiet, intelligent girl with mousey brown hair snags the handsome quarterback and lands the lead in the school play to complete the fairy tale.

Anyway, for me, dancing was not an ideal career. I’m assuming I’d be told I wasn’t good enough more often than not as is pretty standard. The song, “Dance 10, Looks 3” from A Chorus Line kind of opened my eyes to my future. I feel like I would have given up on that passion after each failed audition, my worth as a person sinking lower and lower.

It’s a strange journey in my head. I assume I’m awesome until someone says I’m not quite, and then I assume I should abandon the endeavor forever and crawl into a hole and cease to be me.

And that’s where I am with my writing. I get so inspired! People say nice things! I’m happy with my work! JK Rowling didn’t publish Harry Potter until after age 40! I have great tools and tips from the writing conferences I’ve attended!

But I’ve never had large-scale success. My short-story posts thus far have received little praise on the one site I used to enter them. I can’t get past the first chapter of my Poland book. I haven’t written in six months. And then, oh God, and then this:

“Allison Cane perched on her toes, poised to flee. Her target was in sight – well, not really, it was dark. She could hear the footsteps of her target though, and that was close enough.”

This is the opening to an assignment one of my old students wrote. She was 13. My first reaction was that it was better than any story intro I’ve done. My second thought was that I should erase writer from any and all biographical info I have on the internets. Because hyperbole is my middle name.

And then I read the passage again. It’s good, not perfect though. It has style, but still needs sprucing up and tightening. (That’s a technical term used by editors. It means this is long, and I’m not interested in reading it all. Make me interested.)

Oh God, maybe I should just be an editor. But then how does one get started doing that? I’d love to help bloggers edit their work, but no one would want me to. I mean, I have no experience, and my own writing sucks…..

You see?

Oh, just my son, writing a book, mocking my ineptitude.

Oh, just my son, writing a book, mocking my ineptitude.