Why I’ve been absent…

One semester left.

That’s what I keep telling myself.

One semester. 16 weeks. Just keep going.

Part of being absent has been not figuring out how to process my patients’ and my story for blogging. You know, HIPPA and all that. I find there is meaning in their lives, and I want to say more than “wow, I worked in a hospital with patients today” but some people will make you believe THAT is too much.

Anyway, there’s another reason I’ve been more absent. Blogging was a way for me to process, and lately, someone else has gotten my verbal processing.

Someone who took me here, after we attended a family wedding over the weekend:DSCF2370

And did this, next to Bridal Veil Falls:DSCF2372

Although, I was so excited/shocked/”Is this really happening??” that I didn’t even give him time to ask. I just said “Yes!” several times, until I realized that I completely stole his thunder. To which I said, “Um, I assume you were going to ask me to marry you?” Then he showed me the ring, and because everyone asks for a close-up:DSCF2375The only down-side of getting proposed to at Niagara Falls is that you are right on the line between US and Canadian cell service. I had to wait until we were off Goat Island and 5 miles on US soil before I could call my own parents!

 

Dating a Seminarian

I entered a new frontier the past summer – I’m “in a relationship.” But as this requires as much adjustment and introspection as being single, don’t think that my blog has suddenly lost its purpose.

Yep, you heard me, being single – a content single – requires as much introspection and processing as dating someone.

Anyway, my boyfriend is an Orthodox Seminary graduate. With my involvement over at Orthogals, it was suggested that I write an advice feature on dating a seminarian. Since this would involve his life, I ran the idea past him. The conversation:

Me: So, the Orthogals are wondering if I can write a feature on dating a seminarian. What do you think?
Him: Um, I don’t think that’s a good idea.
Me: (seeing his reticence and suddenly being aware of the personal nature of it) On second thought, maybe not.
Him: Actually, let me give you my advice for dating a seminarian – DON’T.
Me: Yeah, if people actually look at the demands life will have on that family, they wouldn’t seek it out.

Later, I was chatting with my priest about life and how mine was shaping up. In hearing that my relationship involved a seminarian, my priest offered his wife as a resource to me. Of note, Preoteasa is the Romanian equivalent to the Arabic Khouria and Russian Matushka – all are terms of respect for the priest’s wife. In my parish, it has been abbreviated to “P’sa.” The conversation as follows:

Me: Your husband volunteered you as a source of advice for me.
P’sa: Oh? For what?
Me: Dating a seminarian.
P’sa: Run. Run FAR away. 

So, ladies, there you have it from both the potential priest and the wife of one – don’t seek out that position and enter with caution if you do get called.

 

It still happens in your 30s…

I’m in my early 30s and still “open to a relationship.”

This past weekend, I had my first Skype conversation with a man I’d been introduced to online (via friends – you don’t always have to go through a site to be online dating, I guess.) This means that we enjoyed each other’s written words and recent pictures enough that the conversation warranted the next step: the video chat. Anyway, we had been emailing back and forth for a few weeks, and our respective schedules had finally cleared up to where we set the time.

The day of said Skype date, you want to know what happened? No, massive storms and internet outages didn’t occur. No catastrophes.

I developed a painful pimple on my chin.

When I felt it brewing the night before, I just had to chuckle. Seriously? The stuff that plagues you as a teenager the day before Prom still happens before a first date in your 30s???

Thankfully, Skype doesn’t always have the best of pictures, so a little make-up went a long way. But you want to know the other funny thing about having your first coffee date over the interwebs (other than it being Dutch treat?)… you only have to look good from waist up! Thank you bare feet and cooperative hair!

It was a good conversation. Enough that there are to be more in the future. In the mean time, I guess I’m going to dig out my benzol peroxide and keep looking for the ultimate face wash.

We survived.

Dear officially single ladies/men,

Well, we made it through another Valentine’s Day.

Some of us tried to ignore the day all together. We didn’t wear red or pink. We limited our exposure to anything that eked of romance, love, or for that matter, kindness. It was just another day where everyone else was crazy, and we were the only neutral or sane party. The day is best spent in bed with vodka or other depressant drug of choice.

The bitter and jaded side is represented by those that tell others to, “Go f- yourself!” or other snarky responses that communicate, “I hate myself. I hate this day. I hate anyone who is remotely happy right now. Give me your chocolate.”

There is a combo of the bitter and jaded with an amicable personality. These are the people that share comics such as this one or these examples:

puritanvalentines

In the end, they wish others “Happy Valentine’s Day!” with a smile.

Then there is the attitude I’m working towards – enjoying the opportunity to appreciate those around you. While the world is in a chocolate coma, they still hand out the best candy options. No chalky message hearts for them. No Sponge Bob or Dora the Explorer valentines for them (unless consistent with their general personality).

It is hard to be ignored and single on a day that focuses on Cupid, St. Valentine, and Eros. Some years, “Girls’ Night” suffices. Sometime the guys in the college or singles groups would plan nice steak dinners. When I worked in a school, the student parties and fun of the day meant that kids dropped chocolate and cards at my feet. Even with cards, parties, and gifts, the loneliness still creeps in. For that I have no remedy.

But guess what? It’s February 15. The sun rose this morning. Whatever your adaptive or maladaptive coping mechanism was for yesterday, it’s done. Welcome to the rest of the year.

Take Notes on What NOT To Do

Knowing odds would be slim with the Ortho-folk, I also went to another website at the suggestion of a teaching colleague. I garnered a few more emails and interesting conversations, and this site also piqued my interest since it tries to match people in a closer radius than others. Having experienced the “find someone 1000 miles away” websites, especially when I first moved and didn’t know a lot of people in town, it is a bit weird to be on a website where you look at profile pictures and go, “I know him from _____. I don’t care if we’re a 90-ish per cent match, it ain’t gonna happen.”

A few weeks before my birthday (mid-July), I was contacted by a guy who seemed sweet and interesting enough, and we had a good banter over email. He suggested meeting in person, and I didn’t see any reason not to. So, a few days after my 30th birthday, it was arranged that we would meet for coffee after I was done teaching. (Points for initiating the meet and suggesting “safe” places: a park or coffee shop.)

First dates are a funny feeling, especially blind dates. Yeah, we had communicated, but I didn’t actually know this person.

Am I doing my hair and putting on make-up for the first time in 3 months for nothing?? Yay! Doubt!

I checked my email during an afternoon lesson no-show to confirm place and time. I have his number, he doesn’t have mine. You never know; it’s better to try than wonder.

So, I arrive at the coffee shop a bit early (things wrapped-up with teaching sooner than I anticipated). I began journaling, yet felt weird sitting at a table with no drink in front of me. I was being one of those coffee shop patrons. To ease my conscience, I decided on a small decaf drink; I keep writing. It is now 5 minutes after the time we set. Hmmm. At 10 minutes, I call a friend. Do I say he’s a no-show or text and give him a chance. She encourages me to text him and be nice, especially since he doesn’t have my number.

I act innocent: Hi, I just got here. Where are you at?

Short story: he spent the day working outside with his uncle and was tired. He had emailed me via the website, but it was after I checked my email. He didn’t want to stand me up, so he comes anyway. (Points for attempting contact. Loss of a few points for not scheduling his day better.)

35-40 minutes after the time we set, he walks in. It’s hard to know how to greet someone you met online – handshake? Hug? Wave and a smile?

I was sitting at a two-top. He doesn’t sit across from me – he chooses across from me and OVER one table. Diagonal? Really?? (Points lost). And from there the conversation drags, not because he’s tired – I could only wish. Nope, his lack of confidence as a person exudes over the place. (Points lost). He decides to get a drink and doesn’t even offer to get me a refill or ask if I want anything. (Points lost for lack of consideration.)

We take a walk and all he talks about is a life-changing experience he had in his post-college years. And he keeps trying to prove to me that he has friends (points lost) and assumes too much about me — He thought I must have been popular in middle school or high school. Wrong! WAAAAYYYYYY WRONG!

Thankfully, my gift of gab had kicked in, so I was able to keep conversation at an acceptable level, but as the night dragged on and on and on, it became painful to continue conversing. Seriously, a one-hour walk never felt so long!!

Finally, I had an excuse to exit – my contacts were drying up in my eyes and becoming more irritating with every minute. I was VERY careful with my words. I did not say anything that would have led him to believe I was having the best time of my life nor that I intended to see him in the future. I think I said something such as, “I need to wrap-up this conversation because my contacts are drying up, and I need to go home and take them out. Thanks for meeting up. Hope you get some rest after your long day.”

My FB status that night:

*face palm* Well, there went a perfectly good evening.

There was another fellow whom I had a few conversations with over Skype (he lives in California), but that fizzled for a variety of reasons. While he was nice, I’m not heartsick for it not working out.

And that, folks, is the end of Online Dating-Round 3. You’ll be the first to know if there is a Round 4.

On Again, Off Again

In the flurry of nursing school, I failed to wrap up the summer online dating stories – not that there are many left. Based on my past few posts and that no excitement exudes from this writing, I think you already know the result.

I’ve been out of the loop so much regarding my online communicating that I completely forgot to delete one profile until I got an email 2 months after not visiting the site. Out of sight/site, out of mind apparently.

This time around, I chose two sites that I had never utilized before. One was specifically geared towards Orthodox Christians. My synopsis: do not waste your time. After this website and my two-part review of Heaven Help the Single Christian, I have become thoroughly convinced that Orthodox Christians do Liturgy and the Liturgical cycle very well. Yet, efforts to make Secular and Evangelical things “Ortho-friendly” are rather mediocre. Orthodox Online Dating has a horrible search function (takes for-ev-er to enter information then hard to get back to the results once you clicked a profile) and it’s trying to be a replacement for Orthodox Circle (if you don’t know what this is, you must have blinked) – which was bad to begin with. Thus, you’re taking two mediocre/badly organized things and melding them into one bigger mediocre/badly organized thing.

From the Ortho-world, I sent and received a few emails, but no significant communication from people I would want in my life permanently. Oh well. I guess it’s better to network the Matushkas and Presbyteras in my favor.

In case you’re wondering how I described myself, I provide the following:

The past 10 years have been full of change and growth for me: new career (from music teacher to nurse), new state (Kansas to Indiana) and new faith (Evangelical Christian to Orthodox Christianity). Yes, I’m a “pesky convert.” Anyway, I’ve grown a lot personally and spiritually since college and am looking for someone who will appreciate the personal work I’ve done. Other interests and activities: chanting, cooking, baking, entertaining/hospitality, blogging/journaling, times with friends, anything on BBC (i.e. Sherlock), and in the coming months I will LOVE to read my nursing textbooks… 😛

I have a strong desire to love people through hospitality and taking care of their physical needs in order that their emotional needs can then be met. This is part of the reason behind my career shift. It leaves plenty to talk about in my life along with never allowing it to be “boring.”

Also, when it came time to describe “the person I would like to meet”:

Points for: being pious/serious about his Orthdox faith, enjoys sharing hospitality, being clear with your intentions, being 5’10” (or taller) OR getting over your fear of me being taller than you. I’m 5’10” w/o heels….it’s a bit hard in Ortho-world to find guys taller than me.

Points off for: being a bad communicator, not having a direction or sense of direction for your life, and wanting a reptile for a pet.

Stay tuned for the next story…it’s a good one.

Passion and Purity

I mentioned this oldie-but-goodie previously. My fall break was spent Iowa being Auntie and having lots of playtime with preschoolers. We didn’t exactly master the maze, but they let me take a picture anyway:

I had no idea that a quick glance through my sister’s bookshelf would lead me to the words I desperately needed to hear at this point in my life.

If you’re Protestant, you have probably heard of Elisabeth Elliot; if you’re not familiar with her or her story, look here. Her first husband, Jim Elliot, was one of five American missionaries killed by the Auca Indians of Ecuador in 1956; the account was later told through the movie The End of the Spear in 2006. Among other books in theology and the stories of her mission work after her husband’s death, she published Passion and Purity in the early 80s, which became the gold standard of relationship advice by the time I was a teenager in the 1990s.

I skipped out on reading P&P, for reasons unknown, but read other books on courtship and what to do while waiting for marriage. I only became frustrated with each book I read and never liked the answers each author proposed.

With the niecephews asleep and little conversations among the adults, I skimmed the bookshelves and pulled out P&P. I rarely read introductions to books but this time I did. What first captivated me was the brief outline of her friendship, courtship, and marriage to Jim. 5 years – FIVE!!! YEARS! – between the time that Jim first announced his love for Elisabeth and when they married. He wasn’t even certain whether or not he was called to marriage when he confessed his feelings! The second aspect of her writing that made me realize I needed the wisdom of her journey was her honesty: the loneliness, impatience, the questions, the thoughts, the struggle, the silence.

It shocked and relieved me how verbally open both of them were with their mutual attraction. Yet, it made sense. If neither of them had to skirt around the “Does he/she like me?”, they could get on with the real questions of “What are my gifts and how am I to use them? Is marriage in God’s plan for me? Will our paths coincide for ministry?”

Where I was emotionally and spiritually in my teens and early 20s, I don’t think Passion and Purity would have been a good book for me to read. Had I read it then, I envision my thought pattern being something like the following:

Well, Elisabeth Elliot devoted herself to Christ and got what she wanted: marriage. Sure, it ended sadly with Jim’s martyrdom, but she at least got married and had a kid. Now she’s famous. So really, I just need to pressure and guilt myself into having a great relationship with Christ so life can go my way. Eventually, a nice guy will see what an awesome Christian I am and will prove himself worthy of my attention.

Yes, I like to think that I’m constantly on a pedestal.

Thankfully, I read P&P now after a few bad relationships and multiple confusing situations. Here are the better thoughts:

It was a hard 5 years. But her first commitment was to Christ, yet even in the face of all that happened, she didn’t manipulate circumstances to be near Jim, distract him, nor deny her own calling for ministry to “make things happen”. She was honest with her circumstances and sinfulness. She had to give everything to Christ, sometimes minute by minute.

I agreed with most everything that Elisabeth and Jim shared (she printed several of his letters), except for one view of marriage. Their reticence towards marriage was expressed through a “if you’re married, you can’t be as committed to Christ.” Granted, Orthodoxy acknowledges that marriage can divide one’s attention, yet marriage is part of salvation rather than distracting from it.

Without divulging too many details for my complicated life and why I needed Mrs. Elliot’s words of wisdom, here’s the short story:

This past summer, an acquaintance and I crossed paths during his cross-country travels. It became apparent during this visit that the chemistry both of us felt during our previous meetings needed to be addressed. Being able to hear his opinions and say what I felt was a relief for me – to finally have things out in the open where they could be discussed without the other going “Huh?” Yet, the timing couldn’t have been worse: we live half a continent apart and both of us have 2 years of schooling left.

The words, “I don’t do long-distance” at first were a let-down. A week later, they felt like a ton of bricks. It’s a tough place to be and one that will drive me to further prayer and conversations, though honestly, it’s driven me more to some tears and cries of, “Seriously, God!!! Ugh!” I am not approaching this as having a “back-up” in place if no one else comes along, nor is that how I’m encouraging him to feel. Honestly, who wants to be told, “Well, nothing else is working, so you’ll do.” I still struggle with how to handle any subsequent visits we’ve had –having a clear calling does not make me immune to hormones or free from distractions.

And while my situation has distinct differences from the Elliot’s, I needed to hear of her experience. I don’t have a man who has expressed his love and affection for me solely. But I have an opportunity to pray, to follow my calling through nursing school, to not manipulate circumstances, and to make certain my commitment is to Christ. I am guaranteed nothing with this or any other relationship opportunity. And unless my life and faith is based on Christ and practiced in the Church, I can not face the trials to come, single or married.

The above picture is titled: It’s MY Blog, it’s my picture, I can insert it randomly in posts if I want!!!

Fall Break

TRS spent her fall break in the Ice Cream Capitol of the World. So much fun with the niecephews!

After they went to bed, there was about a half hour spent checking email, Facebook, and other random stuff. I looked through the bookshelf in the guest room for some light reading and found this:

In all my years as a good, church-going girl, I never read the gold standard of dating. I read Quest for Love, Lady in Waiting, and I Kissed Dating Goodbye, but somehow this one passed me by. Maybe I thought I got all the wisdom in the other books. Or maybe since I read other things about the Elliots, I thought I knew what she would say.

What I didn’t realize is how applicable her words and wisdom would be to me. I devoured the book – in less than 4 hours.

Review and more thoughts later. I have to get my homework done.

The Quiet Man

Hi. I’m feeling better today. I’ve been sitting on this post for a while, and with lecture being boring, I’m finishing it during class. Get over it.

After experiencing dating, romance, and life fiascoes, I have come to the conclusion that men and women of marriable age should partake of the wisdom from the move The Quiet Man.

I honestly didn’t get the premise of The Quiet Man until my late 20s. Despite multiple viewings and giggly conversations and repeated quotes, it just didn’t click. Then I moved and my stuff was to be crammed in with someone else’s stuff. I conceded and put most of my things in storage, the garage, or out of sight. I thought that my things were not good enough and attempted to justify my decision to myself as being best for a peaceful abode. But the result was a feeling of bitterness and constantly being a guest in my own home. Even though Mary Kate is brought to a furnished home, she refuses to acknowledge that it is her home until her possessions fill the space. “Those are my things. And I want them!”, she says in desperation.

Then there was the whole fight scene that I didn’t get either. While funny, I would still think “Why?” In the middle of some of my own romantic drama, it made sense. Sean Thornton needed to prove that Mary Kate was his and that he was standing up for her. At the time, I was waiting for The Idiot Texter to do that for me: make his claim and stand up to anyone who got in the way. Well, in his stalling, he made a HUGE tactical error. (Hence why his name is “The Idiot Texter.”) He was uninvited to the rest of my life after that.

Yes, I want you to watch John Wayne and believe that he really is a native Irish boy who came home to the village where he was born. Maureen O’Hara is wonderful as the snappy Irish girl who is smitten but bound by her cultural norms.

But the reason I like The Quiet Man is that it shows life and love as difficult. It shows the internal battles of relationships. While the movie might have “man” in the title, I think it is equally about Mary Kate (no, I’m not being a radical feminist, FYI). Sean Thornton has his past and new life to deal with through the plot; he thinks that since Mary Kate is in his life, things are settled. Nope. She has a life as well; she doesn’t blindly follow his lead. Go get my things that will make this house MY home. Get out of your comfort zone; stand up to any adversary and claim me.

So, until someone sends a matchmaker my way and asks whether or not I “go for it” (“it” being officially courting), there will be no playin’ patty-fingers in the holy water. (Watch the movie).

Round 3

Do you ever have recurring nightmares? Or déjà vu? Or the bad idea that you just have to try???

Well, I’m at it again for Round 3 … of online dating that is. Cyber Dating Saga

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