Saturday, 4 December 2010

Mutant Baby Guppy-not your average fish story

When I was in ten I had the world’s meanest teacher, Mrs. Vanderwilt. I did not make that up; that was her name. She had a face that was wrinkled like a wilted flower and not once in the entire school year did I ever see her crack a smile. However, she had a kind side that emerged in June when she announced that, with our parents’ permission, we could take one of the class guppies home. During some of the dullest lessons, I had stared at the aquarium, which held the guppies, envying their simple life as I struggled through multiplying fractions. I was thrilled that one of these little creatures could become one of my own.

I ran home that day, went up to my room and began to prepare my case by writing down all the reasons why I should have one of these fish as a pet. Then, I volunteered to help with dinner and offered to do the dishes and take out the trash. I was even nice to my little brother. When my family was all settled around the dinner table, I pulled out my list and mounted my attack. This wouldn’t be easy. My mother was adamantly anti-pet, but she was mostly anti-mess-up-the-house-and-eat-your-sofa-pets. Thus, I knew that the fact that this little fish couldn’t sink its teeth into a piece of furniture or poop on the floor was to my advantage. I cited the guppy’s tidy existence as my first reason to have it and then listed all the responsibilities I would have caring for my little friend. I was on reason number four when my mother sighed, “Stop.”

“Yes?” I looked up cautiously from my well-prepared document.

“I’m not touching that tank and those things stink if not cleaned regularly.”

“It would be my fish, so it would be my job,” I looked at her with pleading eyes. “I’ll clean it regularly. I promise.” She looked at my father as if she were hoping he’d object. He didn’t.

“Oh, okay,” she sighed.

That night we prepared. My mother wrote a note to Mrs. Vanderwilt, got out an old Cool Whip container and I punched holes in the lid. Then I remembered that it was a fish and probably didn’t need air like maybe a butterfly would, but I felt better knowing that I was looking out for the welfare of my new charge already. We made a list of the things we would need from the pet store and then I went to bed despite the fact that I was too excited to sleep. I tossed and turned and thought of all the names that would be begin with G. Its name would have to begin with G. It was a guppy after all. Of course I didn't really know it's sex, but made an assumption. After careful consideration I decided on what I thought was a rather unique guppy name, George.

The next day was the last day of school and I skipped home merrily, but carefully, with George in my container. From there my mother took me straight to the pet store where we got a fish bowl, food, rocks for the bottom, a little net and decorations so George would feel at home. I then carefully placed George in his new environment and he swam about to get used to his new quarters. I fed him and he ate voraciously. “Don’t over feed him,” the man at the pet store had warned, “Most fish don’t get full and they can get ill by eating too much.”

The next two weeks went by smoothly. I have to admit that I despised changing the water in George’s fish bowl every four days, but my room smelled horrid if I didn’t. George didn’t like it when I cleaned his tank either. When he saw the net approach his sanctuary, he would try to swim in to a corner to escape it but he never could. Then, he would flop about like mad when lifted from the comfort of his water. On a few occasions he jumped right out of the net and bounced around on the floor until I was eventually able to scoop him back up. Each time, I thought for sure he was a goner. He never was. George was tough.

One morning George surprised me. He had babies. There in the bowl were 17 small, tadpole looking creatures with George, whose name could no longer be George. From then out, I called her Mama Guppy.

There was a reason Mama Guppy had 17 babies, survival. Sadly every morning I was scooping another deceased fry, as baby guppies are technically called, out of the bowl. I was very careful to feed them exactly the right amount of food, but the baby guppies that did not eat quickly enough soon perished. Slowly but surely their numbers diminished. Out of the original seventeen only the three fastest eaters survived and grew. Well actually only two grew. One ate faster than the rest but only his eyes became adult size and seemed to bulge out of his body, which remained almost the same size it had been at birth. He was more like a swimming pair of bulging eyes with a tail than a fish. At first I called him Runt, then Runty, but eventually I gave him a name much more fitting, Mutant Baby Guppy.

Mama Guppy did not live long after the birth of her offspring, so we gave her a proper burial in my mother’s flower garden. I didn’t expect Mutant Baby Guppy to live much longer after his mother went on, but he did. Every morning I would wake up, rush to the bowl to check on my fish and be relieved to count three-well, technically two and a half. Mutant Baby Guppy had to be some type of fish miracle. Despite his small size Mutant Baby Guppy was a fast swimmer and often out ate his siblings, who didn’t dare mess with him probably because they were intimidated by the fishy stare of his humongous eyes. I often wondered if his large eyes gave him some type of guppy super power that allowed him to see every spec of food and plot his strategy for eating. Although I tried to be a perfect mother and love all three fry equally, I had a special place in my heart for Mutant Baby Guppy.

That summer was not the typically hot summer that Michigan usually had and on more than one occasion I was stuck inside because of cold, rainy weather. So, I was happier than usual then when the Larsons came to stay with us. The Larsons were like family and had two boys who were just a year younger than both my brother and me. Scott, who was closer to my age, was just as fascinated as I was with Mutant Baby Guppy. He watched me with envy as I fed my fish and cleaned my tank. One particularly gray, drizzly morning, I was in a rush to leave for my swimming lesson. As I was gathering my things, I realized that I had forgotten to feed my fish. I started back up the stairs to my room, but Scott stopped me. “Don’t worry. I’ll feed them,” he offered.

“Thanks,” I replied and dashed off.

When I returned home after my lesson, my mother greeted me at the door. Just beyond her stood Scott with his head hung down. “Honey,” she said gently, “I’m afraid I have some bad news.” I said nothing and just looked at her puzzled. She sat me down on the stairs and put her arm around me. “Scott was only trying to help, so please don’t be angry at him.” She went on to explain that Scott had fed the fish just a little like he was meant to, but they seemed to be hungry so he fed them a little more and then a little more and so on. My fish with the endless appetites ate and ate and ate, so Scott continued feeding them until he accidentally filled the top of the bowl with half of the contents of the fish food container. He called for my mother, who upon seeing the thick layer of fish food floating on the surface of the water tried to scoop it out. But, it was too late. Much of the food had sunk to the bottom and settled among the green rocks. My fish continued to eat and eat until eventually they rolled over with their bellies pointing at the ceiling and ate no more.

That afternoon we had a special ‘guppy cremation ceremony’. Well it wasn’t exactly a real cremation as there was no fire, only the gushing waters of the toilet as it swept my three fry out to sea. I was sad but I knew they were in guppy heaven with Mama Guppy and their smaller brothers and sisters. They were my very first pets and I shall never ever forget them, especially Mutant Baby Guppy.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

An Annual Review of Myself by Me

Last year I made 10 resolutions since we were entering a decade, so as a new year approaches I am taking a moment to review and evaluate my 10 little goals.

Goal: I will take better care of my plants.
Assessment: Errr... they are still alive...well most of them at least.

Goal: I will buy a new electric kettle to replace my broken one and make coffee at home instead of buying pricey lattes.
Assessment: Kettle was purchased. It's actually kind of sexy. Is it wrong for me to think of a kettle as sexy?

Goal: I will make more and buy less.
Assessment: I have done this a bit, but it needs improvement. I am, however, shopping smarter so that's a start.

Goal: I will keep a tidier flat.
Assessment: I moved to a house and have a housemate. We're both pretty tidy, but my room is not a neat as it could be.

Goal: I will set aside at least 30 minutes five times a week to write for my own purpose. It does not necessarily follow that I'll be blogging more, but I do intend to take my writing a bit more seriously than I have done in the past.
Assessment: Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah
Yeah, that didn't happen.

Goal: I will cook more and eat out or get takeaways less. When doing this I will endeavour to be healthy in my meal choices.
Assessment: Not bad. Moving out of Surbiton and away from the kebab place that was so near to my house has helped this immensely. I also started to see a nutritionist.

Goal: I will work out at least 3 times a week for one hour.
Assessment: For the first part of year I did really well at this. However, I haven't had a proper work out for the last 3 months.

Goal: I will put less effort into obvious superficial friendships and put more effort into the real and lasting ones.
Assessment: Achieved and I repaired one and made it a true friendship.

:I will not repeat old mistakes. I know what I'm talking about here. That's all that matters.
Assessment:I did exceptionally well for most of the year with one slip-up in the middle, but to be honest that wasn't a mistake as much as it was a learning experience.

:I will set my finances in order so I can buy a place. I hate thinking about this stuff, but I need to and I need to do it now.
Assessment: I am still trying to figure out how to pay for my citizenship fee. However, I have significantly decreased the amount of debt I have.

So, not bad overall but not great either. Next year I resolve to not make any resolutions.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Shelving Journals

I'm currently reading Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Stroud. It's a collection of short stories linked together by a woman, Olive Kitteridge, who appears mostly as a minor or extra character in each story. In the "The Piano Player" one of the characters (not Olive) has this to say about love. "You couldn't make yourself stop feeling a certain way, no matter what the other person did. You just had to wait. Eventually the feeling went away because others came along. Or sometimes it didn't go away but got squeezed into something tiny, and hung like a piece of tinsel in the back of your mind."

It is perhaps the most liberating and empowering feeling to realise that you're falling out of love with someone or that you have completely fallen completely out of love with said person.

Of course it's not obvious when you've reached that point. In fact often you don't notice it until a few days have passed and it strikes you that you have ceased to think of someone who previously occupied your daily thoughts. Or, maybe it's simply the way you react to something the object of your affection does, or more precisely the way you don't react, as whatever it was s/he did that would normally affect you no longer moves you in one way or another. Whatever it is that makes you realise those amorous feelings have gone, it is, as I said, quite liberating.

However, I don't really think of these past loves as being smooshed into small bits of tinsel to be hung in the back of my mind. No, instead they are like journals that are filled up with stories of happy times and anguish from when you were in love. All the unrealised hopes, dreams and wishes for that relationship scribed onto the pages by hand until finally there are no pages left because there is simply nothing more to write about.

And then they go on to the shelf and sit. Every now and again you open up those diaries and reminisce, but seldom do new pages get added. The story is over, but no matter what you never...ever...ever throw them away.

Thus, I'd have to say that 2010 was the year of shelving some very thick journals. And yes. It was quite liberating.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Dear Universe

Dear Universe, 

When I say I wish to remain in the area where I'm on holiday and not return to my life in the real world, you should not take me literally and do things like delay my flight by several hours or cause a volcano to explode. Just get me home safely and I'll deal with my life. However, please take my wishes to be independently wealthy and fall in love with a decent man seriously. Then maybe I'll actually want to return to reality.

Thank you very much,


Wednesday, 9 June 2010

I'm Angry about Being Angry

I'm tired. It's late. I'll be brief. This isn't a post I'm going to tweet about. I'm not saying anything important. It's just a vent.

Every morning I wake up, get down from my little nest and make certain the news downloads to my phone so I can read it on the tube. (My own little rebellion for the tons of paper commuters here in the Big Smoke waste daily on their periodicals) Then I sprint to my stop (my morning exercise) and read what's been downloaded while tube surfing to Waterloo and that's when I become enraged.

My blood boils each time I read about the Gulf Oil spill. I want to scream and yell and throw things. Maybe it's due to the fact that the company that's f@cking up the beauty of the gulf from the country I'm from is a company from the country where I am now a permanent resident and will soon be a citizen.

I'm sickened and there has only been one occasion where the news about the gulf has actually looked promising.

The fact that I get so angry about this spill every day and it doesn't look to be ending soon really pisses me off.

There rant over. I'm going to bed.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Does being alone mean you are lonely?

About a week ago I saw this article in the Evening Standard. The article highlighted a statistic from the 2001 census stating that 33% of people in the UK are single and went on to say, "That's a lot of potentially lonely people out there — and the problem is only going to get worse." It then went on to talk about loneliness and the break down of social cohesion in our modern society.

I decided to google "Are single people happier than married people?" and found studies that say yes and studies that say no. There seems to be a lot of disagreement on the subject. So of course I am now going to tell you what I think.

I agree that despite the 2 million ways we now have to communicate people are more isolated from each other than ever before, but I think it's rubbish to imply that simply because you are single you are lonely.

 I have been single for quite some time now and I don't consider myself a lonely person. My family even lives thousands of miles away from me and yet I still don't feel alone. I have friends and now a housemate in addition to a variety of engaging activities that keep me busy. When I am actually home alone, as I am now, I don't feel any less happy than when I am with someone.

That being said, I would like to be in a long and lasting relationship, but I'm not at all unhappy nor feel lonely since I am not. In addition I know people who are in relationships and feel quite alone and are unhappy. Fear of actually being alone keeps them where they are despite the constant loneliness they experience in their unhappy relationships. Sometimes they even have affairs, taking on even more partners, to escape the loneliness they feel. Fact is that these are the truly lonely people and they aren't single, but if they were single they would be lonely. At the end of the day, a person's marital status isn't an indicator of how lonely they may be.
 Plus, lonely single people aren't the sole reason for the lack of community cohesion nor are they a result of that. There are a variety of factors that contribute to people feeling isolated but I'm not going to being to spout all of what I think they are here. Time is ticking and I need to get ready to join my community of peers and enjoy the cheesiness that is the Eurovision Song Contest.

See, I'm not lonely at all.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

I'm Connected Again!

Let me tell you how disconcerting it is to be disconnected when you're a social network junkie like me. But, I'm back. We have internet in the house and so I'm back and connected again.

Oh and I'm all moved and settled. I love it here in East London. This move was probably one of the best things I've done, only to be surpassed by moving to London to begin with.

Life is good.

I literally stumbled home last night, however. I turned my ankle walking home from the tube after a lovely evening out with friends. It bloody hurt at the time and since I had imbibed a bit, I knew that wasn't a good thing. I hobbled all the way home and today I'm in with my foot up on a pillow with ice on it instead of going to the Columbia Road Flower Market as I had planned. I was also planning on going to the gym tomorrow, but I think now I may give that a miss.

Oh well, anyway it's good to be back- and hey, now I again can tell you about the insignificant details of my my life. Whoop!

And here for your visual pleasure is a picture of the new house.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

You're kidding right?

There's about to be a historic election in Britain, thousands of people are still stranded and trying to get home thanks to last week's ashcolypse and yet this is what the Daily Mail has as its front page story:

With everything else in the world the Daily Mail has decided that wheelie bins are the enemy of everyday families. Not financial ruin due to unethical business practices of certain lending and investing institutions, but wheelie bins. God forbid you have to put yourself out by separating your rubbish and then put the bins in front of your house one day a week! Surely this is an infringement on our civil liberties!!!

This is an ongoing assault that the Mail has launched against a necessary recycling scheme. As usual instead of reporting real news that is going on in the world, the Daily Mail is furthering their right-wing political agenda. Fortunately for the Mail a majority of their readers are simple minded consumers who believe whatever crap the Mail tells them is important or true. Unfortunately for the rest of us there are far too many readers who take the Daily Mail seriously.

Okay rant over. Back to packing up my flat.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

When it rains it pours...or is that leaks?

I'm home! I was one of the first people to get home thanks to the fact that my flight to the UK was one of the first ones to be cancelled. My route home, however, had me on three different flights, took me through Montreal and was 22 hours from door-to-door. I wasn't able to sleep on the flight or at any other time on my journey no matter how hard I tried. But, it was a darn good thing I got home when I did.

When I walked into the living room, I was greeted by a horrifying sight. At some point in my extended absence the upstairs flat had begun to leak water into my flat through the ceiling and had soaked the chair and rug underneath it. Fortunately, all my electronics are situated on the other side of the room.

This must have occurred in the last few days. Kate, my downstairs neighbour, had popped in on Monday or Tuesday to water my plants and hadn't noticed anything. The soaked chair and rug were pretty damn obvious! My friend, Mark, owns the flat upstairs and lets it out. However, he's currently on holiday with his family in Thailand. Fortunately, one of the tenants who lives in the flat upstairs was home so we ran some tests and discovered the leak was coming from the shower.

So, I sent Mark some emails and called my landlords. Then Mark called back and my landlords came over. We determined that it was only the shower that was causing my living room waterfall. After a bunch of back and forth communication between my landlord, Mark's tenant and Mark in Thailand, it was decided that Mark's tenants are going to take baths as that is not causing the leak for a week until Mark gets back and can fix the problem. He's pretty sure he knows what pipe it is and is quite the DIY aficionado.

And that was my morning. I had planned to take a quick nap but that obviously didn't happen. In addition to all this, I also managed to make some phone calls and was able to push my move date back by a week before collapsing in a heap.

Thus concludes my homecoming-and now I'm going to take a long hot bath.

Friday, 16 April 2010

That Ol' Mice and Men Saying

Careful what you wish for...

I've had a most beautiful time here in the US. My grandmother turned 90 and we had a week of celebrations. My uncle and aunt and brother came to Asheville where my parents and grandmother live. We ate and drank, did some sight seeing, visited and ate and drank some more. We probably ate and drank too much to be fair. My clothes certainly don't seem to fit the same way that they did when I arrived. To top it all off the weather was brilliant- 75F (24C) for the better part of the week more or less. Life was good and I dreaded what I was to return to in London-hurried packing up of my flat and a strenuous work week on top of that. I wished wished wished that I could stay a little longer...oops.

Thank you, Eyjafjallajokull. Now I'm here not for one day longer, not two, not three-nope. SIX! I'm here for six days longer. This means that I won't be able to pack up my flat to move by the following Saturday. Plus, during a very important part of being ready for my school's accreditation, I'm here. I'm helpless and there's not a whole lot I can do about it.

So for the next week I will be trying to rearrange and arrange things in the UK so that my students will have lesson plans, my department will have an organised curriculum with all of our ducks in a row for accreditation and my flat will be packed to move next weekend. The way I had it planned it was all going to go smoothly, now I'm not so sure.

Tomorrow, however, I will wake up, go for a walk with my mother and then bask in the 80F (27C) temperatures- that is after I make a few more phone calls to rearrange and arrange details.

I'm now dreading returning to London even more than I was originally. But, it will all get done...somehow.

You gotta admit it's ironic that I'm stuck in Asheville due to an ash cloud.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Ch ch ch ch CHANGES!! (To be sung to the song of the same title by Mr Bowie)

Holy moly!

I'm moving. Actually leaving my lovely flat where I have been for 6 whole years and headed to the East End. I've been wanting to do this for years and now it's done and accomplished! After a journey of looking at houses and then deciding I should live on my own, we got the house we wanted. It also happened to be the very first one we saw. Whoop! I'll be an EastEnder in 3 weeks. Oh and ironically, the house my friend, Carolina, and I are moving to is right by a pub called The Queen Victoria. Look out Mitchells, you'll have a new punter in me.

In addition, the other night I made one of the best (but most difficult) decisions I've ever made. It started off in a rather stupid manner on my part. I picked a fight with a friend which was unjustified. He definitely did not deserve my tipsy tirade. However, it led to a conversation about why we were still friends after five years of rather complicated and sometimes dysfunctional relations. He said, "No idea, habit I guess." And that's when I knew it was finally time to call it all a day.

This isn't the first time I've tried to sever ties with him, but this time I went on to burn bridges so there would be no turning back for me. Address book->DELETE, MSN->DELETE, YAHOO Messenger->DELETE, Facebook->DELETE, LastFM->DELETE, Twitter->Stop Following, MySpace->DELETE and then I realised that I was linked up on here to both a blog where he posted a piece I'd written and a podcast I did with him. I have now unlinked those from my blog despite the fact it is my work and I should proudly show it off. Oh well. Finally, I put the nail in the coffin by posting about all this. He strongly disagrees about blogging for emotional purposes and we've had a long discussion about that in the past. If he reads this, which he may or may not do, I have no doubt that any temptation he might have had to contact me will be completely quashed.

I hold no ill will against this person. I care for him deeply and sincerely wish him well. It's just better for both of us if we're not in each other's lives any more.

Endings bring new beginnings. I'm moving to a new place. I'm meeting new people and I'm clearing out the old to make room for all this to happen.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Bake Myself Thin...

I absolutely love to bake and very recently acquired The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. I've made a few delicious cakes so far and there is ever so much more to be tried. But alas, I'm trying to lose some weight. Although I always give most of what I bake away, to be constantly creating treats to tempt me is not conducive to dropping a few pounds.

If you have been reading my blog for a while then you know about The Biggest Loser contest we did at work over a year ago. Being a loser made me a winner but then I proceeded to gain the weight back again. The competition with a fellow colleague was my impetus to stick with diet and exercise for three months but after the contest was over, I returned to my old ways and with those ways came the pounds I had lost.

So, I decided to create a new type of competition... with myself. I plan on using my love of baking to 'bake myself thin'. I created a system whereby I will earn points for good behaviour and lose points for bad behaviour. My reward will be the ability to make lovely treats to share and of course I will be able to sample the treats I bake.

Thus my plan. Only after earning 60 points will I be able to make something from the cookbook.

1. I will weigh in every Friday that I am at school and record my weight. A few other colleagues still do this since the BL contest and being part of it will help. (3 points each time I weigh in)

2. I will log everything I eat into daily and stay within my calorie goal.
(1 point for logging in and recording, 3 points for logging in and staying within the goal)

3. I will exercise for at least 45 minutes- gym, cycle, running or something along those lines. I will also record this on
(3 points for each time I exercise and record it)

4. The only thing I can buy from the school cafeteria is salad, soup, bread (roll) and fruit. (-5 if anything more)

5. With the exception of Friday Treats, I may not eat any sweets that are in the staff room. Healthy snacks are okay but must be logged.
(-5 points for every time I eat staff room sweets)

6. On a school night if I go out in the evening I can only have 1 drink.
(-3 points for every drink I have over one)

7. Finally, once I am able to bake something must record it with the calories and must give most of it away. No points of this- just a rule.

I will start tomorrow, keep this up until May and then decide if I should continue or not. I'm already planning on what I'll bake after earning my first 60 points. Yum! Of course I'll update on my progress at points here if you are interested.

And now I'm hungry and must eat something.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

My Thoughts on iTrust

A little piece in the Guardian yesterday caught my eye and the concept has been rattling around my head since.

There is now an iPhone app called "iTrust" which is designed to keep people from reading their partner’s emails. According to the article the application was written by 26 year-old Bob Nerberg from Oslo with help from his girlfriend. He insists that it will make relationships stronger and says, "It's something everybody thinks about in a relationship – is my partner reading my texts and emails? Now you can be sure."


So what type of relationship does Bob Nerberg have with his girlfriend? Okay, I don't want to know that or really care to conjecture. But what does downloading this application really say about you and your relationship?

This application is great if you are a cheating philanderer or involved in any other dodgy type of business that you want to keep secret from your partner. Now I'm not saying that you should be open to your partner about EVERYTHING. It is, after all, rather nice to keep some sense of mystery in a relationship. But, aren't relationships meant to be established on trust? If you really feel that you must hide something from your partner because it may hurt them and/or possibly ruin your relationship, then you need to re-examine yourself and your motives not download an application that assists your unscrupulous ways.

This application is great if you don't trust your partner or are paranoid in general. If you are convinced that your partner is reading your texts, checking your Facebook account, etc., then by all means download this application. It will confirm one of two things: 1) your partner is a snooping busybody who either doesn't trust you or is out to get you or 2) you are troubled person with such an overinflated sense of self-importance you actually believe that people (your partner in particular) care enough about your business to read through your personal messages.

In a solid, healthy relationship you would have nothing to hide from your partner and would trust that they won't look through your phone without your knowledge.

So if you're in an unhealthy relationship, by all means download this application. It will make the dishonesty and lack of trust in your relationship even stronger and you can live unhappily every after.

One thing "iTrust" as confirmed for me is that I wouldn't ever want to date Bob Nerberg.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Internet Dating and Job Hunting: The Same Techniques May Yield Successful Results

About five months ago I was sitting in my friend Marianne's garden relaying my tale of woe about the current state of my love life. "Have you thought about a dating web site?" she asked me. I groaned. Had I thought about a dating web site? I'd been there, done that and now owned a few tee-shirts. I really didn't want to go there again. "You should give it another go if only just to realise that there are loads of men out there and to get out of your rut." And with that she took my hand, dragged me into the house and sat me down in front of her computer.

It is here that I should mention that Marianne is a career coach and a damn good one too. She writes an informative and entertaining blog about making career changes and runs her own coaching business. As we sat in front of her computer with her giving me advice on how to create a profile that captured the essence of me and was tailored to finding my ideal man, Marianne kept chuckling and pointing out how this was very similar to what she does for a living. Then it hit me. Internet dating is a lot like job hunting and frankly you'd rather be in the perfect job than out there looking it for it. So maybe the key to finding the right person online is to approach your search in the same manner you would when looking for the perfect job.

1. Your CV (that's resume for my fellow Americans)
When you're looking for a specific job- that perfect job- you want a CV that stands out among all the rest and shows off your skills, experience and even in some cases your personality so your future employer notices you, wants to know more about you and contacts you for an interview. (As an aside Marianne has written a great blog post on CV and cover letter writing.) This is just the same as an internet dating profile. You want to show off how great you are without boasting and at the same time you don't want to ramble on in great detail about yourself. That will just bore any prospects. Why would they want to know more about you if you tell them everything straight away?

You want your profile to reflect the best side of you, so for pity's sake CHECK YOUR GRAMMAR! This is just as important in internet dating as it is in job searching. If you use text speak in your profile, you will come across as lazy. If your profile is riddled with grammar errors that any primary student can spot, you will look illiterate. Do you want a lazy and illiterate partner? I don't.

Put up a few nice photos. This is a must and is an area where a dating profile is different than a CV. You want at least one nice attractive photo of yourself up there. Profiles without photos usually do not get noticed. Choose your picture honestly as well. Don't select a picture taken ten years ago when you were two stone lighter, but instead choose one that was taken within the last two years. If you end up on a date looking significantly older than or nothing like your profile pictures, at the very least your date might not completely trust you and at the worst no longer find you attractive.

Remember that it is also YOU who's looking to 'hire' someone. What type of profile grabs your attention? What type turns you off? Apply these preferences to the profile you're creating. At the end of the day we want a partner who compliments our personality and is drawn to the same things that interest us. If you don't want to read your own profile, who else will?

2. The Cover Letter
So you think you've found your perfect match online and want to make contact? This is just the same as finding the right job and wanting to be selected for an interview. Make your contact and make it personal. This is the same advice Marianne gives to job hunters about writing cover letters. You don't want to be the typical introduction email or you will just be set aside in the same way employers will bin letters and CV's that are just a repetition of the status quo. I once received a long introduction message that read as if it could have been copied and pasted and sent to many women at once. A friend of mine was on the same site and received the exact same message from the same man. Needless to say, neither of us got back to him and we had a good laugh about it. Really read the person's profile and say something directed towards them, about them and go beyond the trite, "I enjoyed reading your profile and think we have a lot in common." Mentioning a common interest or playing on their sense of humour is a good start. You want give them an intriguing taste of who you are so they will want to know more about you. However, don't be too wordy. Again, you don't want to bore your potential date or give too much away about yourself in one go. If you are the one making the first contact, your introduction message is meant to have your readers want to go back and look at your profile and your profile is meant to leave those readers wanting to know even more about you.

Oh and again you're putting your best face forward here, CHECK YOUR GRAMMAR!

3. The Interview
So you've made contact, spoken a bit and now it's time for that first date. First dates and job interviews are very similar and if you're a naturally introverted person, both job interviews and blind dates can be horribly intimidating. Marianne has yet another terrific blog post about introverts and interviews. One of the keys to success in an interview is preparation and that goes for first dates as well. Re-read your date's profile. Think of some interesting questions that would stimulate conversation and allow you to discover more about your date. However, before you even get to the point of having a first date with someone be sure that you really want to be having that first date with that someone. Get to know them a bit. Exchange a few emails and chat on the phone. Granted some people are not good on the phone and you might not be either, but speaking before your date can give you a good idea of what the date might be like. So give them a ring just to confirm the date and you can at least hear the sound of their voice. In the end the more you know about the person you've just met online, the more relaxed you'll be when you meet them in person.

Once again remember that you are doing the interviewing too. This holds true for job interviews as well. You don't want to find yourself in a job that you despise just to get by much like you don't want to be with someone who annoys you just to have a partner. On the other hand, don't be overly judgemental. This is, after all, just a date and chances are high that the person you meet will be just as nervous as you are. So if you both just relax and enjoy the moment all should go well and if it doesn't and is awful, you don't have to see that person ever again.

4. Don't Give Up
As I said a the start of this internet dating, like job hunting, is not easy. That's not what the internet dating sites would have you think, however. On their introduction pages and in their advertising they show happy couples or cute little animated couples having the time of their lives. They don't show you the amount of time you spend reading profiles, the disappointment of not being written back or how frustrating it can be to go out on a date that you think went well only to never hear from the person again. But, don't let this get you down. Internet dating is certainly not the only way to meet people but it does help in many ways. For starters the not-so-fabulous dates can be seen as flirting practice. You might not meet the right person, but what's stopping you from practising your verbal banter on those you do?

The best way to keep the roadblocks you may stumble across during the beginning of internet dating from getting you down is to not take them personally or seriously. You'll find yourself just giving up on dating completely and losing all desire to put yourself out there if you do. It may not be easy, but perhaps you should approach it in the manner that the internet dating site marketing team would have you believe it all is, light hearted and fun. You need to keep your eye on the prize with an optimistic attitude.

So where am I now with all this internet dating stuff since Marianne put me back online? Well, I must confess that once I realised how similar internet dating and job hunting were I backed off and crawled back into my very dissatisfying, but comfortable, rut. This is quite similar to those people who stay in their mediocre jobs and not seek something better because it is just too much trouble. However, with the new year comes a new frame of mind. It's time that I really got out there and found the satisfying, loving long term relationship that I'd really like. Internet dating may not be the answer, but it is a means to an end. And, it's one I'm going to approach a bit more seriously.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Citrus Glaze for Scones and Other Yummy Things

I tried my hand at making scones today. The recipe I used was okay, but frankly not worth mentioning. I'll probably search for another one. However, I decided they could do with a bit of a glaze, so I went seeking one out in cyber space. (It's interesting that I didn't just consult one of my 3 million cookbooks, but there you go.) Unfortunately I discovered as I read through a few recipes that I was missing ingredients here and there, so using what I had seen and what I had available in my kitchen, I made one up. And....

It's REALLY yummy. As I said, the scones themselves are just okay, but after eating 4 of them (oink oink), I've decided that it is definitely my improvised orange glaze that made them yummy. So, here you go...

3/4 C (98g or 175ml) confectioners sugar
1 tsp (5ml) orange peel zest
1 tsp (5ml) of vanilla
3 tsp (15ml) milk

Whisk all the ingredients together and drizzle on scones. Wait 10 minutes and eat.

I'm hoping this year brings me more yummy improvisations to share.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Start out as you mean to go on

Happy New Year!

Normally at this time I reflect upon the year and what I learnt as it progressed. Instead of writing a long detailed soppy post about all I experienced this year and the knowledge gained, I'll just sum it up in a list. Major events of 2009 included the following: a break-up, finding a lump in my breast that ended up being nothing but gave me a week of grief, having a long standing debt repaid and a friendship restored, painfully discovering what I thought to be a true and lasting friendship to be a sadly superficial one, passing the Life in the UK test and being granted Indefinite Leave to Remain, Dave and May's fabulous wedding, teaching a new year-level and receiving top marks and accolades in a rather challenging course. Not all of these received blog posts, but they're worth mentioning when summing up the year as a whole.

Now a new decade has arrived and as such I believe it deserves 10 resolutions. I started to tweet them as I came up with them, but decided to just lay them out in one neat blog post rather than just tweet away. So here they are in no particular order.

1) I will take better care of my plants.
I've been a horrid plant caretaker this year and have killed two plants due to my negligence. I've been a better caretaker of plants in my past, so I will do my best to rectify that and return to my good nursing ways.

2) I will buy a new electric kettle to replace my broken one and make coffee at home instead of buying pricey lattes.
Kettle has been purchased. It's actually kind of sexy. Is it wrong for me to think of a kettle as sexy?

3) I will make more and buy less.
I mean this and have started to do so with Christmas gifts this year.

4) I will keep a tidier flat.
No explanation needed here.

5) I will set aside at least 30 minutes five times a week to write for my own purpose.
It does not necessarily follow that I'll be blogging more, but I do intend to take my writing a bit more seriously than I have done in the past.

6) I will cook more and eat out and get takeaways less.
When doing this I will endeavour to be healthy in my meal choices.

7) I will work out at least 3 times a week for one hour.
It may be going to the gym. It may be running. It may be cycling. Whatever it is, it will happen for at least an hour 3 times a week.

8) I will put less effort into obvious superficial friendships and put more effort into the real and lasting ones.
Putting it mildly it's no fun when you realise that you're in a friendship that's a one way street and you've been kind, patient and giving only to receive little back. Or, possibly you are belittled and patronised by someone you once held dear. Both of these things happened to me this year and sadly more than once. Yet, I was forgiving and opened myself up to have it happen again and again. I am fortunate to have some wonderful people as friends and I shall keep them close and treasure them. Certain others I'll just leave be and respond politely to when contacted. No use ramming my head against a wall any more, even if I was wearing a helmet.

9) I will not repeat old mistakes.
I know what I'm talking about here. That's all that matters.

10) I will set my finances in order so I can buy a place.
I hate thinking about this stuff, but I need to and I need to do it now.

So, there we go. Ten (not so) little ways which I will change. And with this blog post, I hope that I'm starting out as I mean to go on.

Now I've got some cooking and tiding up to do.