Friday, the Grandmother of my first boy “Beta Reader” brought both her grandsons to my house for lemonade and cookies. We sat and chatted about books on my screened-in porch. The boy on the left, age 9, read Henry From Now On and declared it “heartwarming,” and that he had to read it in just 2 days because it was so good. He was eager to see a portrait on my wall of the real “Betty” in the story, and some real life pictures of the main character Henkie later in life. It was a pleasure meeting both the boys!
I finished the book a few weeks ago. I must admit that near the end, I believed I was hearing the same messages over and over. I was somewhat frustrated with the case studies, and grew weary of some of the people in them who seemed stuck.
But, let me tell you what’s happening here. A group of women I know who have been getting together for ages once a month for drinks and dinner and now reading Women Rowing North together. Some are over 90. They are taking it slow. This past month, they gave themselves no reading assignments because they had so much to talk about.
So, here’s what’s happening in my county. As part of Aging Well in Waldo County, I lead the Social Isolation committee. One of my targets was to organize the county librarians, let them exchange ideas about senior programming, maybe come up with some new ideas. These librarians are an impressive group. Their libraries are poorly funded. Two county libraries are entirely run by volunteers. They do much with so little.
So me and my grants committee has written and received two grants, both of which help libraries. One grant is specific to funding social isolation remedies. So, we ordered 7 copies of Women Rowing North (and I gave them my copy to make 8). The set will circulate around the county, a month in each, and let groups form over the book. Looking forward to seeing how this goes.
As I said in the last post, women needed this book!
It seems all the women my age and older are reading “Women Rowing North.” Thanks Mary Pipher. We need this book. Everything I read makes me want to write. I find myself saying “me, too” lots to the glimpses of my past.
These thoughts are concerning the first three chapters.
Just a few weeks ago, I perused old photos of the 60’s and 70’s. I found one of my good friend Martha and her toddler daughter taken during the year we all lived together. Martha and I were both local teachers – me in grade 6, her in special ed. Our salaries were so dismal that neither of us could support a home and pay its bills and still eat. So she closed down her house, farther from our commonn workplace, and she moved in to mine with her toddler Laura, one dog, and one cat. Then I too had a cat. With our pooled expenses, we could pay for heat and electric, eat, and go out once a week to Bangor for something a little fun (assuming we each only had one drink).
But I scanned the old snapshot and sent it to Martha. We had the same reaction. That was another lifetime, it seemed. Almost different people when we look back on our lives then. We baked bread, shopped at the coop, wore Earth shoes, and made yogurt. We tried to grow vegetables in poor clay soil on a very small plot. A teacher’s schedule is grueling. For all the months of the autumn, we never saw our home in daylight except weekends, as we left before sunrise and arrived home after sunset.
We had so little compared to what we have now. What we mostly had was each other for emotional support. We both had crises during that time of one sort or another, and plenty of changes. We both had divorces. I got laid off in an economic downturn. Then our time together ended when she moved on to home of her own closer to work; I moved on to graduate school.
Now her little girl is grown with a husband, two children, and a Ph.D. in psychology, and her two adopted children are also parents. All our own parents are gone, with excruciating last years of serial crises that only ended with deaths. Another time. We were different people. We were slim, pretty, and my legs were grand (they have since turned into tree stumps).
Thinking about the older woman loss of power discussed in an early chapter. Yes, there are times since retirement 6 years ago that I have been treated with disrespect, as if I was not the intelligent capable person I still am. Don’t they know who they are talking to? That was what I kept thinking. Do I tell them I am a retired professor, that I have traveled in over 50 countries, co-authored 8 books? Why do I need to even think these thoughts?
On the other hand, I live in the “oldest” state in the U.S. (Maine). I am surrounded often by people in my age group. Yes, we talk about slopping up our shirts when we eat, feeling tired, needing more exercise, and aching knees. But older women run this area.
Maine just elected our first women governor ever. She’s strong, dedicated, smart, and over 70. She’s kicking ass. I met her the night before election at a call center. About 7 of us were staffing the phones, and she just sat down to chat. We didn’t talk politics. We talked about what books we were all reading. Imagine, a governor who reads! She was elected the next day (another thing older women do around here, they run the elections, run for office, run someone else’s campaign, and start needed nonprofits!)
In Maine, counties are governed by a panel of elected commissioners. Our first commissioner runs the county for all intensive purposes. She’s also the treasurer for 5 organizations. She has health issues, a handicapped plate for her car, and some adult children still living at home. She’s almost 80,
So, what I do here in my spare time is run an all-volunteer county organization related to the livable communities movement, championed by AARP. “Aging Well in Waldo County” was not in my retirement plans. But a group of us have worked now for a few years and our county has been designated “Age-Friendly.” We still have so much work to do. Being all older folks, our work is complicated and sometimes compormised by our own age related issues. The majority of us are women. One of the early attendees/leader in this organization has moved on to the State legislature. We are all busy, each in our own way, trying to make life better for mature people, inside and outside this organization.
For now, I embrace my graying hair and even the wrinkles. I do mourn the loss of my waistline (and green tea does NOT melt bellyfat; neither does 100 situps a day). Memories are my friends, but gravity is not.
By this time of life, people my age have already said goodbye to all members of the older generation in their families. That’s true for me and most of my friends. We all have tales of woe cleaning up after the life of parents, aunts, and uncles. Every single thing must be liquidated, assigned, sold, placed, or donated. Of course, generally we are all doing all this while grieving for whomever has passed on. And those belongings can be a mine field of emotions and memories. And, fortunately, a few laughs.
My mother passed first. She’d had Alzheimer’s, and her remaining belongings were just as odd and bizarre as some of the things she would do and say during those last years. Like the time I visited her during the evening in the nursing home and found her sitting in the lobby near the entrance.
“Oh, I am so glad you are here,” she began, unable to recall my name, but certain I was familiar. “Have I missed my train?”
“No, Mom. You have plenty of time. I’ll check the schedule.”
“Good,” she said, relieved of her agitation.
After she passed, I sent all her clothes to a thrift store. But cleaning out her drawers and closet was difficult. I tossed pantyhose with runs, stained cosmetic bags, rusty hairpins, and the pink rubber rollers she had once used on my hair when I was small. There were pens that had been out of ink for decades, broken pencils, brochures, dirty tissues and stretched out headbands. But most amusing was an entire drawer full of prostheses for her left breast following a mastectomy when she was 70. Medicare provided a new prosthesis every two years. She lived to her late 80’s. So there was an entire drawer of fake boobs.
“Why don’t you use them, Mom?” I’d asked her once before Alzheimer’s had entirely set in.
“Oh, they’re too hot,” she replied, explaining it was easier to stuff the empty bra cup with a sock. “And I don’t want to wear them out,” she’d added. “Besides, I’m over 70, what do I need two breasts for?”
My father passed a few months after Mom. Then it was important to vacate his two- bedroom apartment before the end of a month, or we’d be charged another month’s rent. I found a Mom with 6 adopted kids that could use all the furniture. Little stuff like dishes and knick-knacks all went to the thrift store which supported a local hospital.
Dad had a lifelong love of books. He’d culled books when he’d left his last house. But not enough. He was adamant that the remaining books were valuable, and that I should get a good price for them. He thought he had something very precious because he had every book Jack London had ever written.
A kind man, a specialist in antiquarian books, graciously agreed to peruse Dad’s collection. After half an hour, he pronounced that the books were still good for reading, but that they had no monetary value.
Most of us are not privy to the romantic side of our parents. I always knew my folks had a strong love story. But I got a good laugh when I found a stack of vintage Playboy magazines in Dad’s closet.
The process of cleaning out someone’s stuff is tedious and dreadful. But what I learned is that in the end, it’s all just stuff. Just stuff. What someone values has little to do with money.
Now, I try to look at my home this way. Everything I have, everything I will have by the time I die, it’s just stuff. My stuff. Stuff that means something to me, and probably not to anyone else. I will try to remember not to collect so much stuff. Because, in the end, it’s just stuff.
(This is a response to a darling play I saw last night titled “The Seekers” written by Kristin Frangoulis and produced at “Elbow Room” at the Waterfall Arts building in Belfast, ME.)
The 70’s were my “granola” days. I cannot claim to be part of the “back to nature” movement which took place in Waldo County in the 70’s, because I had a job teaching 6th grade. I lived in a shabby little house in Frankfort, Maine, which was purchased by a spouse and myself for only one reason – we could afford it. It was situated at the major curve in the main road, Route 1A, between Stockton Springs and Winterport.
I did identify with many of the traditions of the time. The little house was heated with wood, using a Scandinavian wood stove we had purchased from Frank Raftery’s wood stove store on High St. in Belfast. By necessity, I learned to bank a stove for all day coverage, because teachers cannot run home for lunch. I had some propane backup, but it was bloody expensive to use it, so I rarely did.
The picture that follows shows the house before we bought it. My father, the carpenter, arrived a few times with tools and doors and wood and cabinets. Dad made the place more livable. He installed a front door without a hole where the knob was missing. He added a mudroom and porch on the front. He enclosed a back deck making a place for firewood storage out of the weather. He added a bathroom with running water and a place for a washing machine. I had not been fond of the “inside outhouse” at the far corner of the woodshed.
He arrived with lovely cabinets he’d made to make a real kitchen where there was just a sink and small gas range. He’d made them from American Chestnut, his favorite wood, which he’d hoarded whenever it could be found. He gave me bright red counter tops, and I was delighted with how bright and cheery they were. I loved how the red counters looked with my white and black Bennington pottery and my red placemats from Willey’s General Store in Greensboro, Vermont.
The little house sat close to the Marsh River, too close for a septic system. We settled on a composting toilet called an ecolet. One had to mount two steps to be seated and so it stood like a throne in the new bathroom. It was far better than the outhouse.
In those days, being dirt poor (teachers did not earn enough to make sends meet), I made my own yogurt, baked my own bread. I joined the newly formed Belfast Coop, and had to put in my hours once a month working there, meting out one pound bags of prunes from a large cardboard box, weighing bulghur, rice, and oats.
I ate lots of tabouli and soybean soup and lentil loaf back then. My many bulk foods were stored in large jars on the top of the cabinets, and they added interest and color to my red kitchen.
The little house had once been a general store. So the layout was odd. Local people remembered sitting around a potbelly wood stove, and scooping bulk foods like flour and rice from barrels right about where my kitchen table sat. The owners would have lived upstairs, which explained why I found a dry sink in my upstairs hallway. There had been stairs once upon a time on the outside of the building to the second floor quarters.
My favorite time there was when my good friend Martha, another teacher, moved in with her toddler, dog and cat (I had one cat, too) It took two teacher salaries to cover the basic bills. I managed the inside of the house. Martha managed the outside. She enjoyed mowing the tiny lawn. She planted a few flowering bushes, and cultivated a small vegetable garden. We were over the moon delighted when we heard that the green onion plants we had been given came from Scott and Helen Neering’s garden!
Our only Thanksgiving there was memorable. I had a good table with two leaves. I made the splurge purchase of a harvest gold tablecloth, which I still have. I had a set of china but no silverware to speak of. Martha, who had no china, had inherited a service for 12 of sterling silver, never before used. Between the two of us, we had created a wonderful looking table. We invited a few friends to dinner.
The most memorable part, though, was the atmosphere. You see during the summer prior, I had gone down to MDI to work for the summer as a waitress at the “Head of the Harbor” restaurant in Southwest Harbor. Teachers didn’t get summer pay, of course. So summers meant finding work. With the house empty for two months, mice had moved in.
I had an awesome cat then, who’d gone to Southwest Harbor for the summer with me. Once we returned, she went to work. While the house had been empty, mice had moved in. My cat honed her mousing skills. Each night I would hear her hunting, I would hear a squeak and a pounce, and then find a dead mouse in the morning. This went on through the autumn. The last time I heard her hunting at night, I had never found the dead mouse. I looked everywhere, emptying the woodpile, behind cabinet drawers -I pulled the house apart.
I may not have mentioned that I didn’t cook much in those days. Especially things that required an oven. Turkeys require an oven. So when I preheated the oven for our Thanksgiving turkey, I located the dead mouse.
The smell of dead burning mouse was unforgettable and unappetizing to say the least. Once removing the carcass, we tried to air out the house. But, it was 5 degrees outside that day. Opening the door could only last a few seconds. And the wood stove was working overtime to heat up the house. So we found some scented candles, and that made it all bearable.
The following year, the chicken industry folded in Waldo County. I was laid off along with two other teachers after many families with children moved away. I went off to grad school; Martha found a quaint cottage home in Stockton Springs. She still lives there. I rented out the house in Frankfort. The tenants never told me the ecolet stopped working. They used something, maybe a camper potty, and buried the waste in the tiny yard contaminating the well. I got back from school to find a letter that my property was condemned.
I gave the house to the town for the tax deduction. It was the only course I could think of. They sold some contents, then let the volunteer fire department burn it down. Now there’s something far uglier there than my little house.
So much for the 70’s!
It took me until 2009 to get myself back to Maine except for visiting. As much as I loved the place, I was so sick of being poor. So I accepted jobs elsewhere, and returned to retire. In a sense, I had to leave in order to afford to come back.
I loved it when I went to get my Maine drivers license again. They gave me my old license number and said “Welcome home.” I was home, truly, and I still am.
[The picture that follows in the little house on Route IA in Frankfort. The photo at the start of this piece is me, while working in Bar Harbor for the summer, sitting on the rocks of Acadia National Park near Thunder Hole.]
Around 2006, I was invited to lead a delegation of Literacy Educators for a conference via People to People (the organization started by President Eisenhower). About 20 teachers signed up for the excursion.
As is often the case, the conference of international speakers (mostly Chinese, speaking Chinese with occasional translation) of talking heads was dull. But other activities were planned for the week, such as a visit to the Great Wall, a silk factory, shopping, and of course school visits. We were all most looking forward to the two school visits.
In the way of context, Chinese children in Beijing are grouped into schools by abilities based on their score on a single uniform test across the city (as it was explained to us bu our guide). Therefore, we would be shown only the top schools with only the top scoring students.
The first visit was a high school which began with a welcome orientation by a school administrator in a sort of conference room. He was warm and welcoming. One of my teachers asked how they deal with struggling readers.
“We don’t have any,” was his terse reply.
The rest of our visit was orchestrated and escorted with no interaction with either teachers or students. We got back on the bus, and began talking.
“I didn’t see a library,” one teacher brought up. Hmm, we all thought. Indeed we did not. American schools always show off their library to guests. We had asked our guide earlier if the schools have libraries.
“Yes,” he said immediately, and he recited the ratio of books to students in each school.
So, we resolved on the second visit, a school with younger children, to see the library. We arrived at the second school.
“We’d like to see the library,” I asked respectfully via a translator. There were heads nodding and we were escorted to….a lunchroom. At one end were a few magazine racks with age-appropriate magazines. We looked at each other. Hmmm.
By this time, was international travel had been extensive. So I was thinking there had been a translation error. Translation is a tough thing, especially between languages that are so very different.
So, as delegation leader, I asked again, trying in earnest to be more clear. “We would love to see your library – the room where all the books are, where students might find a book to read, or to check out for a report or project.”
There was quiet talking and mumbling and of course, we had no idea what they were saying, but clearly there were conferring about our request. We were then directed to the two elevators, and in each case, a Chinese person selected the basement button.
From the elevators were were led down a long hallway. The ceilings were lower than in the rest of the building. In the hallways were also the planters taken in for winter and broken chairs and desks. Lighting was dim, and winter chills seeped from somewhere.
A Chinese man stopped us in front of a metal door with a padlock on it, We stood there for a good 10-15 minutes. Clearly this man did not have the keys. Finally another man arrived with a ring ok keys, and opened the door. We filed in quietly.
There were books all right. Rows and rows of metal stacks. We went up and down the rows looking at what was there. BUT, nearly all the books were still in shrinkwrap. No book showed any signs of use. Everything was too clean and untouched. There was no card catalog, no windows, no place to sit and read, no desk for checkout. Many titles were Chinese translations of British literature – classics. We saw no picture books. No evidence of cataloguing.
We stayed quiet, not wanting to be disrespectful. This time we were given a tour which was more personal. We were brought to a large room where children were seated with their teachers, and they demonstrated for us a Chinese art of paper cutting. It was interesting and enjoyable. We were invited to answer questions of the students. Some raised their hands. Translators helped. One asked what we thought about the “One child” rule, and didn’t we agree it is a good thing. We decided to steer away from that one. I said something about how we really don’t know much about the rule, so we cannot comment.
Afterwards we were paraded into a lovely art room. The thing was, however, there was no evidence that art room was used. Nothing smelled like art supplies. There was nothing drying, or in progrss, or hanging, or displayed.
We were brought into a science lab. It was a large and well equipped lab with bunson burners, beakers, flasks, and lots of sinks and benches. But, there was a fine veil of dust on all the glassware. There was no evidence that this room had ever been used.
As we passed classrooms, we smiled at the children who were stuffed wall to wall into rows. A teacher upfront would not be able to walk anywhere but down and row and back as desks went all the way to the back wall – I counted 36-40 students. Children had all identical haircuts, wore uniforms, and the rooms were quiet.
“May we go in?” I asked the escort. He seemed unsure what to say, but opened the door. We trailed in, said hello to the teacher and greeted the students. We encouraged the teacher to keep teaching, but that wasn’t going to happen. Children broke they stoic stance and popped up like jumping beans, wanting to shake our hands all at once. We felt like rock stars amid momentary chaos. We said our goodbyes and then left.
I don’t think that part of the visit was in the Chinese plan.
We were taken to visit the “counselor” who was called the “Teacher for Morality.” She was talking with a few students in an attractive and comfortable setting with chairs and a table. Of course, we do not know what they were talking about.
Our guide had been the assistant principal. We learned the principal was not an educator. He was a member of the Communist Party there for enforcement of whatever they needed to enforce. The assistant principal, a woman, was the real educator.
Subject area textbooks were Party approved, and uniform. We saw no child interacting with books other than the approved texts. We saw no books anywhere, other than those magazines in the lunchroom.
We had lots to talk about back at our hotel. I still think about this visit. Still unpacking what it means to have a locked library that no one uses. Still thinking about a country where children have no access to books – by design, not because of poverty.
I find myself so very thankful for American libraries, and the fact that they are so incredibly important, and that we sometimes have to defend them, and I for one, will always support libraries. A world without libraries is a very different sort of place. Not one I wish to live in.
Shopping for shampoo is so frustrating. I go down the 15 foot long aisle, read labels on four tiers of the shelving. I see shampoo for dry hair, oily hair, frizzy hair, thin hair, color treated hair, nappy hair, and gray hair. I can find shampoo if I want more body, more shine, more moisture, less moisture, less frizz, fewer tangles, and even one to restore curls. Lots of these have matching conditioners for all the same reasons.
The problem is – I have normal hair. Yes, perfectly normal hair. It’s brown, uncolored, not too dry, not too oily, sufficiently thick, naturally healthy and shiny, with a few streaks of silver (NOT gray, silver) only needs washing every few days, well coiffed, easy to take care of, and no curl or frizz.
Where is the shampoo for me? Yes, where IS the shampoo for me? Normal, wholesome, ordinary shampoo. This is my first pet peeve.
My second pet peeve is packaging. Do you survey customers about packaging before you design these extremely tall skinny containers that are too tall for anyone’s bathroom cupboard and which fall over easily in the shower? Should we be having new shelves built just for these big tall pastic bottles? Do you consider average medicine closets, and over-the-toilet cabinets, and typical bathroom storage when you get together and decide on dimensions? Do you?
I have another pet peeve concerning packaging. The shampoo and conditioner are generally in matching bottles. The writing on them is tiny, or white letters on light green backing, something like a 9 point font, if lucky. This is even worse if you are in a hotel using those lovely little containers provided, with which you are not previously familiar.
So, here is a news flash: People do not wear their eyeglasses in the shower. I’ve tried it, it just doesn’t go well. Who can see through waterly drop stained glasses? They are in the way when you wash your hair. It’s just not a good idea to try and wear glasses in the shower.
So, you get in the shower with the two containers, and you cannot see the print. You don’t know which one is the shampoo and which one is the conditioner. If you use the wrong one for the job, yeah, you’ll figure it out when the conditioner doesn’t make suds and the shampoo does not condition anything. But why does it have to be so difficult? But after all that, your shower just took a whole lot longer than you planned, and it’s possible you don’t have lots of extra time for all this.
Honestly, can you all work on this? Larger print please. Even if it’s just the first letter. Or maybe some picture clue. Whatever. Thanks for listening!
Before George W. was elected, many schools were making great strides, grouping students by clusters of ages, rather than single arbitrary grade levels (for which there is no research supporting the grade level grouping). Multiage grouping – often in clusters of 2,3 or all primary students, or all intermediate students – is the deliberate grouping of students for the social and educational benefits it affords, and there are advantages to teachers and schools (and parents) as well.
Some of us hoped with the election of Obama, that some things would return to their educational good common sense. Alas, that was not the case.
While in Florida, with a colleague and a most talented teacher, I had the pleasure and opportunity to follow a group of students in a multiage primary classroom for four years. Our research taught me so much, and the results went far beyond what I thought possible.
Teachers struggle with how to structure multiage curriculum, as they are accustomed to grade levels. The change is fairly minimal when you remember you are teaching students and not grade levels, and we have always tried to do our best to meet the needs of everyone.
Administrators struggle with how to report data, and how to explain it all to parents. These two issues are highly solvable, and not difficult.
Everyone thinks parents will hate multiage grouping. Parents are initially skeptical. In Florida, after one semester of implementing multiage classes at a Manatee County elementary school, 94% of parents were thrilled with the arrangement, as they saw their children thriving in a model far more like a family than most things done in schools.
Let me share an anecdote. A veteran kindergarten teacher became a multiage k-1 teacher, by choice. She was accustomed to the frenzy of those first weeks of kindergarten with too many children not knowing how to do school, or tie their shoes, or put on the jackets, etc. Year two, half the class were new kindergarten students and the second half were first graders who’d been kindergartners the prior year – the year started off so smoothly.
Around day 3, kids were lining up to head out to lunch. One or two kindergartners were wiggly, disruptive, and not responding to teacher directions to line up quietly and in an orderly way. One first grader turned around to the wiggly kindergartners and with a look, said,
“We don’t do THAT here.” That was the end of the incident. Peer pressure can be a good thing in the right circumstances, when used in the right way. The newbies complied for their classmate in ways they might not think to for their teacher. The rest of the year was like that: Smooth, calm, a medium ripe for much learning.
For teachers or administrators out there who want to be multiage, who are multiage and need help defending your practice, or honing your practice, I can help you if you need help.
In the section about Books I Have Written are listed 2 books I co-authored on multiage education, one with an administrator as co-author. You can find these books on amazon. They are no longer in print.
You can also reach me through this website, or my email email@example.com. Consulting fees are reasonable and negotiable as long as it does not cost me money to help you.
If you are a courageous teacher or school holding on to this best practice, then my congratulations and best wishes.
Today is Valentine’s Day. Dad and I are standing at the end of Mom’s hospital bed, where she’s been coughing for her life with pneumonia. … page 37
I met my husband from an online dating site. I was 61 and he was 60. Our first date was actually at a dog park. We both had dogs, and this way we could see if the dogs got along. I paid special attention to how he treated his dog.
Our lives together have been full of love, friendship, and growing closer together. BUT, before I met my husband, I had tried about 15 dating sites (I lost count, really), had about 50 first dates (conservative underestimate). Along the way, I made some terrific male friends who I never “dated.” Even found a fabulous accountant. And some of those friendships persist today. So, you can find different things along the way before you find that special someone. Here are things I learned which I would encourage anyone to heed.
- Know what you are looking for. Do you seek friends? A life partner? A Marriage? One phrase you come across in the online dating world is “open to possibilities.” I like the flexibility of that idea, as long as you are sincere.
- Be clear about what you don’t want. If your partner must be a non-smoker, of a certain age range, must love pets, etc., say that up front in your profile. Constructing your profile is important. For example, one mature friend decided she would no longer date anyone still raising children. After all, she’d done that already and was in a different phase of her life. Here are some things I listed: Must love pets; must be mentally and emotionally healthy; non-smoker, at least a Master’s degree in educational level; over 5’10’ (men generally exaggerate their height); have a valid passport. (my reason for the latter is, if anyone gets to be 60 and never had a passport, then they probably don’t have much sense of adventure, trying new things, etc.)
- Explore a variety of sites. Google dating sites. You will get plenty of hits. Some cost money, so decide if that’s okay with you. There are good ones that do not cost anything. I met my husband on “okcupid.com.” It’s free. It asks lots and lots of questions of each person joining. Therefore, you can get to know lots about someone before deciding they are a potential partner for you. I also appreciated plentyoffish.com, also free, as they hold local real events and you can go to a dance where you know everyone there is single. There are sites specific to the younger, to the older, to the very religious, to people of particular interests, etc. Nearly all sites I explored account for same sex dating as well as heterosexual dating. Some sites allow salacious and nude photos. Decide if that’s for you, or not (caution – in these sites, men often send pictures of their equipment and not their face). Some sites have different “communities” within the site depending on what you are looking for, such as “dating only,” “relationships only,” or “seeking sex partners only.” CAUTION: DON’T SIGN ON TO A SITE WITH AUTOMATIC BILLING UNLESS YOU KNOW HOW YOU CAN QUIT. WHEN YOU WANT TO QUIT, PRINT AND SAVE THE EMAIL WHERE YOU STATED YOU WERE QUITTING. BE VIGILANT CHECKING THE CREDIT CARD YOU USED. YOU MAY NEED IT LATER TO DISPUTE CHARGES ON YOUR CREDIT CARD. ONE SITE A FRIEND USED REQUIRED ONE TO QUIT ONLY VIA A CERTIFIED SNAIL MAIL LETTER SENT TO A FOREIGN ADDRESS!
- Construct a good profile. Use your best writing skills. Say who you are, and what matters to you. Often you can read profiles before you join and get ideas. A profile should state things about you, and things you want and do not want. BEWARE of the profile that is all about what someone is looking for, and nothing about who THEY are. Here is an example of a good profile:SUCCESSFUL PROFESSIONAL SEEKS A PARTNER POSSIBLY FOR A LONG TERM RELATIONSHIP. I AM A (BLANK-YEAR OLD) FEMALE LOOKING FOR A MALE OF SIMILAR AGE. I AM WELL-EDUCATED, PHYSICALLY FIT, WITH A LOVE OF NATURE, GARDENING, SPORTS AND TRAVEL. I OWN MY OWN HOME, HAVE ONE DOG AND ONE CAT, AND TAKE CARE OF AN AGING PARENT IN MY TOWN. I AM LOOKING FOR SOMEONE WHO IS ADVENTUROUS, FUN-LOVING, MENTALLY HEALTHY, AND WITH A GOOD SENSE OF HUMOR. MY POTENTIAL PARTNER MUST LOVE CHILDREN AND PETS, BE ONLY A MODERATE DRINKER, NON-SMOKER, BE OVER 5’9″ TALL, HAVE A KIND HEART AND A GOOD JOB. In short, consider what you value, what you love, what you can’t live without, cannot live with, etc. Also, be careful about asking the impossible. A female colleague wrote her profile and her list of requirements in a partner and her list had about 25 things on it, AND the match could not live more than 25 miles away. The site actually asked her, politely, to remove her profile as they would be unlikely to help her. One more thing about profiles -lots of guys say “I know how to really please a woman.” If you come across that one, just remember it’s likely the most common thing men say. Besides, what pleases me, like a clean house, breakfast cooked on weekends by someone else – I am guessing that is not what the guys mean,
- Spend time searching profiles. Many sites do some matching and send you people they think you might want to consider. Others, you do the leg work yourself (so to speak). In some sites, you can let someone know you have been reading their profile without contacting them directly to see if interest is returned before proceeding. That might be a good way to get started with fewer risks. In those cases, you would also be notified of people searching you.
- Meeting up. Here are some MUSTS in my opinion prior to deciding to meet up.
- Ask the potential partner for a real name and real address. Google the person. While it’s possible they do not have an online presence for legitimate reasons, more often they do, even if it’s only through work. Use Google Earth to find out if the address exists. Check the website of the county in which the potential match resides. Search for the “clerk of court” and search pending cases and convictions for persons of their name. This is all public information. A girlfriend was considering meeting a guy and put his address into Google Earth. The entire road in the address was an industrial park.
- Notice any odd errors in English. While its possible someone is just a lousy speller, it is more likely someone in Nigeria or Jamaica is running a scam thinking their English is fine and you won’t notice.
- Exchange pictures if they were not already included in the online profile. Sometimes people request a full picture rather than just a headshot. Decide if that matters to you or not. It’s a good idea if the picture is fairly current. I saw lots of pictures with a guy in a tux, probably at a daughter’s wedding, and cut funny, using a scissors to remove others from a group shot. It’s so easy these days to snap a decent photo with your smart phone!
- Telephone call . I believe it is essential to have a real telephone call or two or three before you decide to meet (not a chat online, not a text message exchange, a real phone call). First of all, scammers are less likely to agree to a call. If you do not enjoy talking on the phone, what is the likelihood you would enjoy a conversation in person? You can further consider skyping or such before deciding to meet. BEWARE OF SOMEONE WHO WILL ONLY CALL YOU FROM WORK. THERE COULD BE A SPOUSE AT HOME THEY DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT. USE A CELLPHONE, BECAUSE YOU CAN BLOCK THE NUMBER IN THE FUTURE IF YOU NEED TO. DO NOT GIVE YOUR ACTUAL ADDRESS. I was talking with one guy, an attorney, who only wanted to get together on a weekday, When I suggested a weekend meet-up, he was too busy. I finally asked him if he was married. He got quiet and said yes. “How did you know?” DUH! “Because you only want to get together on weekdays!” Guys do that! “Oh, he said. “I thought I was the first one to think of that.” One of those times I was rolling on the floor laughing for an hour.
- The Coffee Date. Tell someone you trust where you are going and when and ask them to call you DURING THE DATE. Have a code word you say if you want out of the situation, and your caller feigns an emergency or a need for you to leave. ALWAYS arrive in your own car, pay for your own snack or drink. You don’t want, at this point, to owe anyone anything. DINNER? Dinner can be excruciatingly long if the person turns out to be boring or offensive. Once I arrived for a coffee type date at an ice cream parlor. Apparently the photo I had been provided was 20 years and 50 pounds out of date. I saw him standing around in the parlor with that “I am looking for someone” stance. His shirt had slobber down the front and he smelled bad. So I just got an ice cream and left. I made no eye contact, jut got my chocolate cone and left.
- Beware of the dates who spend the entire time talking about themselves and not getting to know you. If they are sincere about a meaningful relationship, they would want to get to know you.
- What Next? Wait until you get home to decide if you want to see the person again. Make no promises during the coffee date. If they ask if you want to go on a date, say, politely, “I think that is a conversation left until after we have both had time to consider if we are good match.” I have found that if you had a genuninely nice time, that good feeling stays with you later that day or evening. If the other person feels the same way, plan a second simple, non-committal get together. ALWAYS in a public place. My second date with one guy was, at my suggestion, in a bookstore which included a cafe. You can tell much about a person by what books they look at, which ones generate conversation about books, writers, interests, etc. Apparently this guy’s only interest was in getting behind a stack of books where he could put his hands on me instead of the books. Gee whiz, how adolescent is that?? That’s when you say you need to go and pay for a new book and get home to let the dog out.
- Bring home the person? It has been my experience that people usually start initiating intimacy on the third date. So consider carefully if that’s where you want to go. Otherwise, keep the dates in public places. Beware of a guy who never lets you see where he lives. Could be lots of reasons for that, and none of them are good.
- Cautionary Tales. I have lots of these.
- The partner who starts talking LOVE before it seems logical to do so.
- The partner who only is available on weekdays, never weekends. They are hiding something. Like a wife.
- The partner who talks to you lots, but always has excuses not to meet. He’s hiding something.
- The partner who asks for money!!!!!! This is not a developing relationship, it’s a SCAM. Got that? A SCAM. NO EXCEPTIONS. No “Yes, but he says he loves me….” That’s CRAP. It’s called catfishing. It is common. Don’t fall for it. Not even for a New York minute. You ALMOST got sucked in. Whew, dodged a bullet there. Get over it, move on. Someone tried that with me. We talked several times on the phone, even skyped. He said he was too busy to meet, maybe next month. Then he claimed to have run out of money and needed $1200. right way. I replied, “That’s what credit cards are for.” “Oh,” he said, ” my credit card is maxed out, I cannot use it.” I brought up that there is travelers aid in most places in the world, or there are close friends or family, not NOT someone you just met. More excuses started. I signed off, deleted all messages.
- A partner you catch in a lie. Lies are like cockaroaches and rats. Where there is one, there are many you cannot yet see. Stop all communication. I was having some nice conversations with a guy named Chaz. In fact, lots of them. I suggested we meet up during the weekend. He said he could not drive, he’d hurt his ankle. I accepted that. He called Monday. I asked “How was your weekend?” He said it was nice, he had visited his mother. “How did you get there?” I asked. “I drove of course.” he replied. Here is a guy who does not even keep track of his own lies!
- Someone looking to be taken care of. This happens to both men and women in online dating. The person who cannot tell you exactly what there job is, or claims to have family money, but their lifestyle doesn’t add up. There are women who mooch off men, and men who mooch off women. Is that what you want? A good friend’s ex-husband is on his third or fourth family, each time finding a woman with a good job to support him, having a baby together,and when she starts asking for things, like a contribution to the mortgage, he moves on. He supports none of these children from former relationships, and keeps off the radar from Child Support Enforcement by not working and finding another woman to care for him.
- Anything that does not add up. I dated a nice guy who other than paying for dinner now and then, never had any money to do anything. He had a good job. He had no house with a mortgage, no kids to support, and I knew for a fact he made more money than I did. He lived in an apartment and leased a car. He had no money saved. He owned nothing. I could only conclude either he was hiding something, or he’s a dismal money manager. In either case, not a partner for me.
- Don’t act needy. Don’t talk about all your lost loves. If you are divorced or widowed, mention it, don’t get into it. Don’t dwell on any past relationship.
- Look for patterns. When you are getting to know someone, notice patterns. How did earlier marriages or relationships end? Did more than one end the same way? Patterns by middle age are—sort of set in stone. You are seeing what you are likely to continue to see. Very few exceptions.
- Long Distance Relationships? Dating someone far away can be an adventure and a learning experience. I dated two very nice men in two different countries far away. But of course, it is frought with challenges. You cannot see each other very often. Dates can costs lots of money. Cultural differences can get in the way. So, I would say know what you are getting into, whether or not you are willing to mount some challenges, and are you and the partner willing to consider that a relationship might mean relocating? Of course, what people define as long distance varies greatly. After I decided against pursuing a possible relationship with a wonderful man in Ireland, I was chatting with someone local. In this case “local” was 30 miles away. “I am not interested in a long distance relationship” the match wrote back. I was on the floor laughing about that one, that 30 miles was considered long distance when my last date had been 4000 miles away.
- EXPECTATIONS. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Finding a “match” takes time. Don’t assume after a few disappointments that there is no one out there for you. Remember most worthwhile things in life take time. The word “MATCH” is important (other than the fact it is used in names of dating sites). Someone can be great, but not be a MATCH for you. If you are saying no to an offer of a next date, you can say, “You are nice, but we are not a match for each other.” That’s kind, honest, and effective. If you are reading this, then probably this is not your first rodeo. Mature people, for the most part, are what they are. They are a package deal in a way. You need to decide if the way they are is acceptable. When we were all younger, probably we thought we could change our special person into who we wanted that person to be. And we found out that changing someone does not work. True, people often change. But not in ways we may dictate. A male colleague in the midst of a divorce shared that his soon-to-be ex-wife lamented bitterly that after 8 years of marriage, she was still unable to get him to change. He was astonished. He was unaware that his changing was her goal and personal project. And of course, he wondered why she could not like him the way he was.
- WANT TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE? This is one of those things that sounds better on paper than in real life. If you choose a partner where the economic differences are great (they have way more money than you), then you are also giving up economic control. Does the other person always get the say in how money is spent? Is money used for control? How did they get their money? Are they from a rich and spoiled family? Were they ruthless to workers in the business they built? Did they do something illegal? Unethical? There are certain personality types among self-made men and women. Let’s just say they are not Mr. Rogers.If you choose to date someone with lots of money, proceed really really carefully. If things go wrong, remember they can afford a better lawyer.
- Avoid like the plague anyone who yells at you, who is physically rough, or gives hints of domestic abuse. Time to implement that exit strategy. “Excuse me, I have to check on the babysitter, (let the dog out to pee, whatever).” I was on date with a guy who said he had slapped his wife a few times, but she deserved it!
- Men and women date differently. It’s my theory that women date like they shop for a dress. Browse the racks, the sales, favorite colors and styles and brands. Then you decide what to take to the dressing room. And you try somethings on. Some are an immediate NO. It makes you look fat, it’s tight, it’s cut funny, etc. Some are maybes – you walk outside to the bigger mirror, ask someone else what they think, they point out the pros and cons of the item. You make your purchase, and even then, you get it home and maybe you decide to return it. You get the picture! MEN date more like they are buying a car. They have decided in advance on a make and model, whether they need four wheel drive, heated seats, a roof rack, a racing stripe, leather seats – you get the picture. When they get to the lot, they tell the salesperson their requirements, they are shown the relevant inventory, take a short test drive, and done! They got what they wanted. I am not saying this is good or bad. I think it’s just the way it is. Be aware.
Good luck! I hope your journey, albeit long, may be successful, full of love and adventure. Stay safe above all (yourself and your money). Wendy C. Kasten, all rights reserved.