December 24, 2010

Advent Poetry: Love

The final theme of Advent is Love.
Hope
Peace
Joy
and now a poem on Love.


Love has a beginning
in one heart.

And one heart only.

Before it lives in two,
binding them together,
pulling others in,
growing
skipping
pounding
moving -

Before all that,

there is one heart
that beats
and beats again.



Merry Christmas, all!

December 23, 2010

Table Scraps (Round 26)

Nadine left for the holidays before I was ready for her to go. I have texted and emailed her this week to tell her so... Sigh. She did, however, leave behind the last of the delicious spinach dip (more to come at our upcoming "Dip-Fest" New Year's Eve), and these quotes that I've filed away over the last six months (last week's list is here):  



her: I do not need spiritual farting at my wedding reception.



her: I think I have to choose my boyfriend over drunk girls, and there is a chance that I'd have to share a bed with a gay man, and I'm not sure how I feel about that.



her: I was going to say a boy has never made me breakfast, but I think Matt poured me a bowl of cereal once.



her: Tell me when your bedtime is and I'll just give you the silent treatment after a certain point.



her: If he were trying at all, and failing, that would be one thing...
me: He's not trying. If he were, he wouldn't be failing.
her: That's fine then. It's okay to make fun of people who aren't trying. (pause as she notices me write this down) I'm going to get in trouble this week, aren't I?



her: Can I steal Tobey Maguire's daughter?



her: People could molest me and I wouldn't notice.



her: I told him Jesus understands, but He's still sad.



her: I would rather you have a crush on a 40 year-old than on Justin Bieber.



 And on that Justin Bieber note, we will conclude.
THE END.

December 21, 2010

26 Secrets

Way back in the summer, a friend and I were discussing Postsecret. She'd recently sent in a couple of postcards, and I asked her, "Do you want them to show up on the site? Or are you afraid that they will? Because I think I would feel a bit of both."

"One of them already did," she responded.

"WHAT!? For real!?"

She told me which postcard was hers; I remembered it. She also told me that the real secret was written underneath, and since Frank Warren does not tamper with the mail he receives, it will stay a secret.

In the ensuing conversation, we talked about the nature of secrets, the reality that most secrets are partial secrets; there are very few things that people hold as complete secrets from all others.


Knowing that I've considered mailing in a postcard or two myself, she asked if my secrets are actual secrets or partial secrets.

I paused when she asked, considering how to answer.

"I have both," I finally replied.


I have been thinking about secrets ever since. Honesty, vulnerability, privacy, shame, guilt, anger, pain and many other related concepts.

Somewhere along the line, I had a (seemingly) separate idea. An art show on my birthday. And then the two came together.

I'm calling it 26 Secrets.

On my 26th birthday, I'm ready to tell 26 stories. Each one is a partial secret, a story told in a pairing of photography and poetry. Most of these poems have been secretly stored away for some time, and I want to share them. Then there are the stories that birthed each "poetography" pair. Those are stories and secrets that I'm claiming as my own (I believe that holding secrets is a sort of power - it can be both destructive and empowering, depending on the context - which is a very intriguing side conversation I'd like to have sometime), but these second layer secrets... they're ready to be posted, seen and discussed.

So if you're in the Toronto area at the start of January...come check it out.

December 19, 2010

Advent Poetry: Joy

Looking back on Week 3 of Advent, here is my poem about Joy.


Joy is always
a surprise

because it cannot be tainted
by the bitter bite
of disappointment.

It is solitary,
independent,
seemingly arbitrary
in the way it chooses
where to make its home.

And then,
it comes
with pomp and ceremony,
startling inhabitants,
settling in
and presiding over all goings-on
with confidence
and clarity.



Week 1: Hope
Week 2: Peace

December 18, 2010

More Christmas Music

After last week's post, a friend pointed out that my videos were more "winter" songs than "Christmas." Here are some of my favourite Christmas carols, for Kolten & any others who thought the same.


First, the ultimate a cappella song:

(does anyone else think of McGee and Me when they hear this?) My brother told me to check out this a cappella crew, so props to you, Stephen. And I feel the need to tell you all that I liked a cappella before it was cool. Just like I had fashion glasses before hipsters existed. My inner nerd has become trendy, but it wasn't always that way...


O Come, O Come, Emmanuel



Come, Though Long Expected Jesus
(I can't find any videos of decent versions. So let's all just take a minute and hum it to ourselves.)


O Holy Night

It was also difficult to find a version that I truly like of this song. But Josh Groban is OKAY. I SUPPOSE.


and one modern song:




I've realized that most of my favourite Christmas songs are in minor keys. I think this is significant because minor keys communicate longing while major keys sound more triumphant. I could could go on at length about this, but I have a few more videos instead.


Winter Song - Sara Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson


Thanks, Teagen for the recommendation! (is it just me, or does this opening sound like a song by Ginny Owens/Sara Groves/someone similar?)


And one more a cappella medley.

Hilarity and skillzzzzz.


Final note on Christmas music: last year, I got a free EP from Matthew Mayfield and it has grown on me exponentially. Check out Her Name Was December.

December 16, 2010

Dip On the Brain (Round 25)

Nadine is sick. She tried blaming some of these statements on "sick brain" but such a thing does not exist. (I mentioned last week that I am thinking of ending this series. After 6 months of weekly quotes, I've decided that next week will be the last one, although I will continue to share hilarious things she & others say in a non-scheduled format)



her: I'm like an old lady. I blame low estrogen. My brain goes through menopause.


her: I hate big parties and clubs and I'm broke. But I like... making dip!


her: I'm gonna prove to you that I'm a grown up too.
me: How?
her: By copying you.


her: Can I have a clap-on, clap-off TV, please? Matthew, this is great, but...


her: It's stupid, because vampires are COLD and they SPARKLE and those are deal-breakers for me.


her: Can we just eat dip forever? I'll go on a dip diet. And get so fat. Its essentially a mayonnaise diet. Which has egg in it. That's good for you.


her: It's like I'm a reality TV show and don't even notice the cameras!
(when I read back some of these quotes, and she didn't remember them)


her: What kind of spam is this!? "Big penis like girl?" Isn't it insulting to tell a guy he has a penis like a girl?


her: Does anybody listen to OKGo or do we just watch their videos?


her: If you eat the onion dip, you need some gum too.
me: Not like I'm going to be kissing anybody.
her: Yes, but it's always nice to tempt...

December 13, 2010

More texts you probably don't care about. But I want to keep a record of these things. So, lucky you.


you look like friendship
Call me needy, but I think it would be impossible to have my friendships affirmed too often.

:) Just remembered awards ceremony at nuit blanche :).
This was one highlight of a great night I fully intended to blog about. The applause of strangers is affirming.

Is he clueless?
Yes, he is. But the humour of this situation...can be publicized in a year or two.

Sounds good, chumbitt.
I think I am okay with being a chumbitt?

Ah. How have we not learnt to teleport. I want hugs.
I concur. Teleportation should have been invented long ago, and I also want hugs.

Be less white. Home guuurrrlll
Sorry. I'll try.

You are great. S and i like you and your face. And your hair.
I like this pair of girls as well. It also seems that my hair may be the most popular part of me.

You know what? I love you.
This was the first time this friend had said this to me. And it was in a context that I didn't doubt her sincerity.

THANK YOU BETH. miss. your. hair. and. smile.
Again with the hair!

What to say?
An honest question. Neither of us knew the answer.

Shoop ba doop is on the radio right now. That can help make anyones day!
Fo shizzle.

Hmm. THERE'S a sentence I never heard!
It was a sentence I'd never typed before either.

I hope you have some red haired babies. How cute would they be with their rumpled curls.
It was just as random and out of nowhere when I received it.

Eep. Kinda good, kinda poo, all zombie.
How was your day?

Ppl snogging loads in public make my curls turn.
Agreed.

I wonder if singers have nicer bootie. Holding all those notes... Something has to be clenching.
I had never considered this before, but now I wonder.

... Did I just write that text? Or are you poaching my inner thoughts again?
I was poaching. I like poaching thoughts from good friends.

Just come. Ten.
On a scale of 1-10, how serious are you? Apparently, serious. Now the question is, do I go?

Can I interest you in a fluppet?
Funny, because she didn't know what that meant to me.

December 12, 2010

Advent Poetry: Peace

This past week's Advent theme was Peace.
Here is a poem:

Peace.
Shalom.

Be still.
And also with you.

Completion
and wholeness.

It is now.
It is here.

It is seeping and creeping
coming up slowly.

A heavy weight
of being known.

Loved and loving.
Rest in redemption.
The roots that hold us upright.



(last week's poem on Hope is here.)

December 11, 2010

Current Christmas Favourites

Christmas music is the main staple of my listening diet these days. I am eagerly awaiting the 2010 Christmas Mix from Fuel/Friends, and otherwise enjoying a playlist that may or may not include a Celine Dion album (although, apparently, I'm not supposed to admit that) and 200 other songs for the season.


Snow Club - Christmas TV

The "Come on home" chorus reminds me of a poem I wrote about a week before I first heard this song. I love it.


Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (You Don't Have to Put on the Red Light)

Either Christmas treason, or the best thing ever. (Every time I hear Roxanne I am reminded of the time a friend sang this song at karaoke, turning every "Roxanne" into "Beth Anne" and pointing me out to the entire bar.)


It Snowed - Meaghan Smith

I WANT A SNOW DAY LIKE THAT!!!!


The Holidays Are Here (and we're still at war) - Brett Dennan

I think this is a great contrast to Xmas is Here (War is Over).


and the too-indie-for-youtube songs:

Jeremy Fisher - Kamikaze Christmas Economy (I Owe)
Also fitting for most of us. I like the political commentary and recentering of values...


I'll Be Home for Christmas - Amanda Rogers
I've never heard this song sung by a woman before, and for some reason, it guts me.


Zechariah and the Least Expected Places - So Elated
This one...I just love love love it. Like I love love love Jesus.

December 10, 2010

Quotes from a Handmaid That Spun My Head

I have a strange love of dystopian literature.

I read Animal Farm (of my own initiative!) in Grade 8. (I also read The Scarlet Letter that year...I applaud my teacher for allowing me these freedoms; the higher-ups must not have known.) Brave New World was the best thing I read in Grade 11, and Lord of the Flies threw me under a bus in Grade 10. 1984 (possibly an independent read) still haunts me. As does Heart of Darkness.

I remember picking The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood off a turnstile in my high school library, although I can't recall if someone recommended it to me, or I just stumbled across it in my regular browsing of the books. As a particularly naïve teenager, I'm quite sure I didn't understand half of what I was reading. But I recognized that it was shocking and profound, and it went on to my list of favourite novels.

Ten years later, four small things brought The Handmaid's Tale back into my life:
  1. I discovered it was the 25th anniversary of its publication (I also made my world debut in 1985).
  2. I started following Margaret Atwood on Twitter.
  3. My friend Wendy commented that reading it as a woman in her late 20s was intense.
  4. I found it at a book sale for $1.
This past Monday I finally cracked it open. By Tuesday bedtime, I'd devoured the whole thing and stuck a dozen or more pieces of paper into pages I wanted to revisit, quotes I needed to write down.

The book wrecked me. It touches on every topic of importance; gender, religion, politics, ecology, media... and it does so in a precise and troubling way.

This is a novel that makes me want to be an English professor. And a novelist. And a poet. I want to write a blog entry (read: Masters Thesis) on each of the quotes below. Oh, for all the time in the world!


Waste not, want not. I am not being wasted. Why do I want? (7)



Sometimes the Commander's Wife has a chair brought out, and just sits in it, in her garden. From a distance, it looks like peace. (12)


We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom.

We lived in the gaps between stories. (53)



I tell myself it doesn't matter, your name is like your telephone number, useful only to others; but what I tell myself is wrong, it does matter. I keep the knowledge of this name like something hidden, some treasure I'll come back to dig up, one day, I think of this name as buried. This name has an aura around it, like an amulet, some charm that's survived from an unimaginably distant past. I lie in my single bed at night with my eyes closed, and the name floats there behind my eyes, not quite within reach, shining in the dark. (80)


I pray silently: Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. I don't know what it means, but it sounds right, and it will have to do, because I don't know what else I can say to God. Not right now. Not, as they used to say, at this juncture...

Oh God, I pray. Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.
Is this what you had in mind? (86-7)


You can wet the rim of a glass and run your finger around the rim and it will make a sound. This is what I feel like: this sound of glass. I feel like the word shatter. I want to be with someone. (97)


The things I believe can't all be true, though one of them must be. But I believe in all of them, all three versions of Luke, at one and the same time. This contradictory way of believing seems to me, right now, the only way I can believe anything. Whatever the truth is, I will be ready for it.

This also is a belief of mine. This also may be untrue. (100)


Maybe none of this is about control. Maybe it isn't really about who can own whom, who can do what to whom and get away with it, even as far as death. Maybe it isn't about who can sit and wo has to kneel or stand or lie down, legs spread open. Maybe it's about who can do what to whom and be forgiven for it. Never tell me it amounts to the same thing. (127)


I hold the glossy counters with their smooth edges, finger the letters. The feeling is voluptuous. This is freedom, an eyeblink of it. Limp, I spell. Gorge. What a luxury. The counters are like candies, made of peppermint, cool like that. Humbugs, those were called. I would like to put them into my mouth. They would taste also of lime. The letter C. Crisp, slightly acid on the tongue, delicious. (131)


You can think clearly only with your clothes on.

What I need is perspective. The illusion of depth, created by a frame, the arrangement of shapes on a flat surface. Perspective is necessary. Otherwise there are only two dimensions. Otherwise you live with your face squashed against a wall, everything a huge foreground, of details, close-ups, hairs, the weave of the bedsheet, the molecules of the face. Your own skip like a map, a diagram of futility, crisscrossed with tiny roads that lead nowhere. Otherwise you live in the moment. Which is not where I want to be.

But that's where I am, there's no escaping it. Time's a trap, I'm caught in it. I must forget about my secret name and all ways back. (135)


He wanted me to play Scrabble with him, and kiss him as if I meant it.
This is one of the most bizarre things that's happened to me, ever.

Context is all. (136)


It was after the catastrophe, when they shot the President and machine-gunned the Congress and the army declared a state of emergency. They blamed it on the Islamic fanatics, at the time.
Keep calm, the said on television. Everything is under control...

That was when they suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary. There wasn't even any rioting in the streets. People stayed home at night, watching television, looking for some direction. There wasn't even an enemy you could put your finger on. (162-163)


You can't help what you feel, Moira said once, but you can help how you behave.
Which is all very well.

Context is all; or is it ripeness? One or the other. (180)


I consider these things idly. Each one of them seems the same size as all the others. Not one seems preferable. Fatigue is here, in my body, in my legs and eyes. That is what gets you in the end. Faith is only a word, embroidered. (274)


It appears that certain periods of history quickly become, both for other societies and for those that follow them, the stuff of not especially edifying legend and the occasion for a good deal of hypocritical self-congratulation...Surely we have learned by now that such judgements are of necessity culture-specific. Also, Gileadean society was under a good deal of pressure, demographic and otherwise, and was subject to factors from which we ourselves are happily more free. Our job is not to censure but to understand. (284)


As all historians know, the past is a great darkness, and filled with echoes. Voices may reach us from it; but what they say to us is imbued with the obscurity of the matrix out of which they come; and, try as we may, we cannot always decipher them precisely in the clearer light of our own day. (293)



The novel's Wikipedia page (immense spoiler alert).

December 9, 2010

Spoken Like a Former Drama Major... (Round 24)

Nadine. Still amusing. Although I am thinking about ending this series, she is continually fantastic. But don't get the wrong idea; most of her fantastic-ness comes out in the heart-to-heart conversations that don't get pulled out of context. Toronto's Best Roommate.



her: I don't know how Arabs work. I've never had one.


her: Amy Grant is like my third parent.



me: You've never seen a fake tattoo-sleeve before??
her: This is brilliant. I need one.


her: If you're on a roll, you can make $20/hr. And my bank account is inspiring me to be on a roll.


her: I'm not going to charge you for half of the remote. Since it might as well go with the TV. That way, we don't have custody issues.


her: That's a deal breaker! I could never marry or date or be seen in public with a Whiffenpoof.


her: Drama students...they'll make out with anything that's alive.


her: I like it when actors have brains.


her: I was already going to get up early to help you get dressed.


her: And then I will sweep the kitchen floor. That's my idea of a fun time.

December 7, 2010

The Dating Dare: Universal Truths

These are my relationship thoughts from over the course of my matchmaking month that I think are important and true, whether looking for love online or offline:


Articulation and effort matters. If every answer on your profile is one sentence long, if you respond to my questions with vague and brief answers, I am not getting to see that you are being thoughtful about this process. I want to know that you find me actually interesting, that you are engaged and focused on our interaction, even if it is brief, and even if it is online, and even if it goes nowhere in the end. Don't be a conversation killer! Use open-ended questions (ie, ones that require more than a yes/no answer). When you have the option to make your own answer on a multiple choice question, do it! At least for 1 of the 5. The same principles apply when mingling at a party. Be your best self. Show that you have personality!


Unless you don't have a personality. Which leads us to lesson #2. You are who you are, and you can't fight that. If you are insecure and nervous about dating, you will be insecure and nervous about online matchmaking. If you are a schmoozer face-to-face, your profile will ooze schmooze. We can do one of two things; fight this or embrace it. I say embrace it. Recognize that it will limit your options, but it will limit you as you need to be limited! I would be a terrible match for the RPGers of small town Canada. So let's not even try to pretend it's an option. One match asked an initial multiple choice question about premarital sex. His profile was interesting, but as soon as I said, “No way,” he archived me. Which is best, because...

The pickings are slim. What I mean by this is, at the end of the day, you have to meet a lot of people to get to a few interesting ones. Sheer quantity increases your chance at quality, and mutual interest/compatibility is more rare than I often think. Out of the 100+ men I was matched with, only 4 received my email address. Which, in my mind, equates to adding someone I've recently met on Facebook. It's saying, “Hey, I'd talk to you again.” Of those four, I heard from four. (Promptly looked each of them up on Facebook. Nadine said it's cheating. I say it's the obvious next step.) And the step after that...

Use your words and don't get caught up in all the drama. Two things I liked about eHarmony: it is straightforward and it is low-key. We all know why we're on there, so a whole level of game-playing is immediately eliminated. I'm a big fan of that. Tell me where you stand and I'll tell you what I'm thinking.  And if you decide I'm not right for you after looking at my profile, or after answering a few questions, or after sending an email or two? Great! Save us all a lot of heartache. Tell me so and we'll both move on. No shame. No mess. No overwrought, drawn-out drama. Why is it that offline relationships rarely start out so cleanly? I think we could do it. Let's cut down on the games and increase the words.




Phew. 
The End. 

December 6, 2010

Dear December 6,

You were just about perfect.

A first snowfall.
A sleeping child.
A book that is flooring me.
A creative project that terrifies me.
A few happy conversations.

Let's have a few more days like this, okay?
Beth

The Dating Dare: Self-Awareness

I am glad I did this little eHarmony experiment, because at the very least, I learned things about myself; what I am attracted to, afraid of, and look for in my interactions with men. Here are some of them.


I am a bit more racist than I thought. It is easier to be a racist online than in person, because all you see is a one-word label. I kind of wish eHarmony had a function where I could turn off viewing ethnicities, so that I could protect myself from myself.

I would not say I am a picky person about looks (my crushes have ranged in every way possible when it comes to appearance), but excessive extra weight is a deal-breaker for me. I couldn't see anyone's photos without paying, and my instinctive fear every time I got a message from someone I found interesting was, What if they're FAT!? In my defense, I think this was a specific manifestation of the fear, What if I find them physically unattractive?? I have liked pudgy/overweight/burly/sturdy men in the past. And am sure I will in the future. But I do think excessive extra weight indicates a lack of self-care and awareness regarding one's health that is particularly unattractive... I surprised myself in this matter, and by the end of the month, my “Can't Stand” list included two physical deal-breakers: poor hygiene and extreme overweight.

Know what else matters to me? Intellectuality. I want someone who is interested in world affairs, cultural issues and the arts. I don't expect an expert in all matters, but recognize that I need someone who observes and reflects on the world we live in. Hence “Fiction is Fictitious” Man didn't make the cut. Nor did the men whose sole hobby was the gym. But someone who is an avid sports fan with a shared interest in dissecting why we humans act the way we do? Appealing.

Chemistry. Attraction can exist over the internet. And it can be instantaneous. If it is not, I tend to be done. That said, instant chemistry does not always turn into sustained chemistry. But for me, non-chemistry has never grown into chemistry. And I have tried.

Related: I really can't wrap my head around dating someone who is singificantly smaller than me. Even more than ethnicity or reading habits, the number #1 reason I archived matches was height. I just expect to feel big and clunky and oversized if I am dating a man who is 5' 6”.



Awhile ago, a friend said to me, “Women are more visual than they admit, and men are more emotional than they realize.” I think he is on to something.

And speaking of generalities about life and relationships... Next up: Things That Are True On- & Off-line.

December 5, 2010

Advent Poetry: Hope

This Advent season, I am visiting The Advent Door and Christmas Is Happening for a much needed dose of Jesus-focused art and thought. And I have decided to write a poem each week.

Here is my poem on Hope.

Hope is watching
waiting
preparing

Believing that the unknown
will come any day,

Knocking down walls
and swinging doors open

Sweeping the dust
that's piled in corners
into the streets
and out of our lives.

It is knowing
that a hurricane comes
to rearrange all things

To shake us
stir us
change and make us

More.

It is saying
that life is unfinished
and the best is yet to be.

The Dating Dare: Honesty Isn't Always Best

If you want to use the internet to find a woman like me (for the sake of this entry, I will describe myself as independent, intellectual, genuine and Jesus-loving), here are three things you should probably not write on your profile:


under Additional Information You May Want To Know:
“AM HORNY LOVING GUY”

Ok. Let's be frank. Sex and sexuality is a part of life: particularly romantic relationships. I recognize that. I also recognize that men tend to be more open with their sexual desires than women (although that is changing in our culture – yet another topic I have thoughts enough to write an entire post on!). But as someone commented when I told them about this, “Isn't that stating the obvious? I would say you should publicize only if you're NOT a horny guy, because then you're unique.”

Honestly. A sexual relationship is not the only thing that most women are looking for. Sex is a part of the bigger, holistic relationship. When you are self-professed as a “horny-loving guy” you can't expect to get a whole lot of positive feedback from people who view sex as an integrated and appropriately balanced part of life. I believe in honesty, but I also believe in making a good impression. Which this does not.


under Things I Can't Live Without:
“My two guinea pigs”

Wow. When I was a child, we had two pet guinea pigs. I loved them a lot. I'm sure I cried when they died. But would I have put them on my list of “things I can't live without?” Don't think so. Not even when I was seven. In fact, around the same time, we have a photo of me holding the neighbour's cat and pouting. What I couldn't live without was a pet cat. Although, it turns out, I could. And now I have been doing a great job of living without a cat or a guinea pig or a dog for the last fifteen years.

That kind of emotional attachment and investment to an animal with such a small lifespan, size, and personality... it takes me aback.


under Last Book I Read And Enjoyed:
“I don't read novels because fiction is fictitious.”

First off, Thank you, Captain Obvious! Fiction is indeed fictitious; as the spelling may suggest, they are closely related. One is a noun, the other is an adjective; different forms of the same word. It would be akin to saying "water is wet" or "snow is snowy."

Secondly, are you anti-fiction in all its forms? If so, I can't imagine you're much involved in our Western culture. Movies? TV? Music? Politics, even? IT'S ALL FICTION.

Gah.

You can learn a lot from fiction. Fiction does not necessarily equal falsehood. It is powerful and beautiful, and has the potential to be used for good or for harm. But it is, of itself, morally neutral. I don't expect every man I interact with to be a bibliophile; a mildly educated perspective is, however, necessary.




Maybe you read these true-to-life profile statements and you don't respond the way that I did. That is entirely fair, because you and I are different people. Which leads us directly into my next post... Things I Learned About Myself.


ps. Those of you who've done a little internet matchmaking...what are the best worst-things you've read?

December 4, 2010

The Dating Dare: Intro

(This has grown into a series of entries, because it's not fair to ask you to read four pages of writing in one sitting. I know you won't, anyway. But this time, I've already written the whole series, so there won't be any surprise fake-outs and take-backs.)


One of the tried-and-true foundations of my friendship with Nadine is that when it comes to the world of dating advice and adventures, we've got each other's backs. This looks like a variety of things. Sometimes, it is being the confidante for confusion and heartache. Sometimes it is lending a helping hand (or word) in communicating with the mysterious male species. Sometimes it is giggling joyfully. And sometimes, it is daring each other to do crazy things.

I once told Nadine she should email and then go on a date with a man who approached her friend at a bar to ask if Nadine was single. And you know what? She did. I think I then helped her tell him she was uninterested in another date.

So when she dared me to go on eHarmony for the month, I had no reason to say no. Not only did I owe her a dating-dare, but I know several people who have met their spouses through the internet (including last weekend's delightful wedding!). Also, it was free.

Let me do a quick walk-through of how eHarmony works, for those of you who've never tried it. (I am guessing that more of you have than would readily admit...so you can just skim the rest of this post and eagerly wait for the next three.)


When you sign up for eHarmony, the first thing you do is an extensive personal assessment. I did this at Thanksgiving, when there was a free weekend and Nadine initially dared me to test the waters of web-based romance (conclusion: three days is not a long enough timeframe). You then choose a variety of personal preferences for matching – geographical restrictions, ethnicities, age, frequency of smoking, religion – and rate how important each factor is to you.

eHarmony gurus then interpret this data and match you with seemingly eligible individuals. These matches get delivered to you, and you click on a name to view their profile. From there, you are in control of your destiny.

Meanwhile, you fill out your own profile. The usual: height, occupation, age, city, etc...and a few other questions, including:

  • What are you most passionate about?
  • What quality is most important to you in a match?
  • What three things are you most thankful for?
  • What five things can't you live without?
  • What else is important to know about you?
  • What do you like to do in your leisure time?
  • What was the last book you read and enjoyed?

You can also upload photos. As a non-paying member, I could not view photos. I am under the impression that this is a double standard, and that non-paying men can view photos of women. But I could be wrong.

And then, for the month of November, you communicate with your matches for free.


It's important to note that “free communication” only includes steps 1-3 of a 4 step process:

Five multiple choice questions from a list
Your 10 must haves & 10 can't stands
Three open-ended questions (from a list or create your own)
Secure & confidential email

So if you want to continue communicating with someone past the open-ended question, you have to sneak your email address into your answers. I say sneak, because rumour has it that eHarmony blocks email address exchanging, which makes sense. But is mega-easy to get around.

I should also explain this “must haves/can't stands” deal. A few years back, I read a book by eHarmony founder called, Date or Soulmate? and so was familiar with the concept. But basically, he encourages “the list.” That is, it is important to know what traits you need a potential partner to have, and what traits you cannot handle in a potential partner. The only catch is that NOTHING is assumed. NOTHING. Not personal hygiene, not fidelity, not punctuality or shared spirituality or communication styles. And you can only choose 10 of each category. Much more difficult. A good challenge to consider though, and one that will potentially keep you from getting romantically involved in a relationship that is doomed from the start.

There you have it. Eharmony in a nutshell.


Next up: Three things you ought not write on your online profile.

December 2, 2010

Special Non-Holiday Edition (Round 23)

Special Edition!!!!

Are you curious about the theme?


Last month, I told you all that Nadine dared me to go on eHarmony for a month of free communication. So I did. I will post my thoughts and some of my experiences within the next few days. Until then, enjoy these hilarious and sometimes unkind things that she had to say about online matchmaking.



her: Oh, no! Don't do that, boys! It's so evil and rude and gross!

her: WHY? Why. Are. You.

her: Oh, he's white, good.
(to clarify, his ethnicity confirmed that he was not a "ladykiller" acquaintance with the same name...)

her: I break up with him on your behalf! "Dear ______, This is Beth's roommate. I break up with you on her behalf. Have a nice life. Good luck being right ALL the time."

her: AH! Cancel! Quit! Throw your computer! (Poor shy quiet Christian man...)

her: Did you ever hear back from the guy when you said, "I don't love you."?
me: What?
her: You know, the fat guy.
(to clarify, the "fat" label was started by me and my fears...more to come in my follow up post)

her: You can't go out with a ch-nage consultant. I forbid it!

her: I like Catholic Matthews.

me: I need to ask him three questions.
her: 3 questions: Are you fat? What's your email address? Will you marry me?

her: Does that say IN FIFTEEN YEARS? I'm a Christian; I'm not allowed to think about tomorrow! Dude. Bra. Bro? What do they call themselves these days?

her: How do you end these things anyhow, say "Roger that, over and out?"

her: As a Canadian, I don't think you're allowed to say you like Celine Dion, even if you do. I think he broke a rule.

her: Yeah, we decided we know some decent men who like Jane Austen...I mean, if he said, Sweet Valley High, I'd say run away.

me: reading message
her: I kind of want him around for comedic relief! Keep him for a little bit!


aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand, a guest quote - 

me: I gave my email to four men...
friend: You hussy!