Tuesday, October 23, 2012

[Of Being Too Busy to Blog, and Losing Weight at Last]

Whew... Pets and Pumpkins is behind me. For the first time, I did not dress in costume--mostly because I ran out of time that morning and couldn't remember where I'd stashed my Dorothy costume. Sassy was a baseball player. Go Cards! Oh, did you know that Sassy has her own Facebook fan page now? Check it out at: http://www.facebook.com/SassyCox

Worrying about the kids playing on the inflatable slide/bounce house next to our booth

Guess who's jumping on someone?

It was a tiring week up through Saturday (P&P day). Besides classes, I did three hours of errand-running Monday and Tuesday, had an appointment Wednesday with the headache center (where they put me on Zoloft to see if it's stress that's why I'm having daily migraines again--so far, my mood is better, my energy is higher (despite being drowsier), and my headaches are less intense--except for Saturday night and Sunday, but that's normal after 7 hours outside at a festival having to be constantly "on" (oh, what fun to be an introvert!)--and I'm starting to lose weight, as the Pamelor made me gain, but Zoloft decreases my appetite), more errands on Thursday, and Friday was insane.

I woke up, cleaned house until class time, taught, came home, grabbed some chili, painted my new MDF display boards, set up my "Guess the Number" M&Ms game, packed more decorations for today, graded, finished a homework project (but I started off doing two, since I can't make up my mind), started on the other option for my design project, dealt with the presence of my parents (welcome, of course, though somewhat distracting with a big to-do list), and pretty much ran from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Then Saturday, I got up at 7, grabbed a bagel, brought two newly-painted-black display boards from the basement, set my prints up on them with masking tape, made two signs, grabbed Sassy's costume, loaded up the two cars, drove to Commercial Street at 10:00, set up, did the festival from 12-5, tore down the tent, came home, put things away (not all things, but some), then pretty much parked it on the couch the rest of the evening, since my migraine had hit about halfway through the afternoon, so it'd reached about a full level 9 (so glad I had a few pain killers left). Sassy did the same nap thing--she's not used to being awake for quite that long.

Oh, I did make a sale Saturday, finally. :) I sold a print! Progress...

And then, this week. I finally got over to the Rec Center this morning (a little after 6:00 a.m.) to work on weight loss and strength rebuilding. It's been a long road to get there this morning--it was my third attempt, the first being last Monday, when I discovered I no longer possess the ability to read a map. The second was yesterday, when I discovered my MSU zip card is no longer valid. Cue an afternoon of shuttle-riding and errand-doing.

So, today, I got up an hour earlier than I needed to, and went over. I did some weights (geez, I've become even wimpier!) and tried to do the elliptical and bike, but my body's still adjusting to my new medication, so I ended up with the shakes. Which is fine with me--I prefer weights, anyway. That's why I took weight training at Truman as my phys ed choice, after all.

I felt energetic-ish all day, though my Zoloft helps with that too (despite some drowsiness, weirdly enough). Of course, with all good choices, one must pay a price. Mine? Besides being gone from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., I've been battling foot and leg cramps since I got home. Bah!

Weight loss progress:

From 142 on Wednesday, 10-17, in the afternoon, to 134.8 yesterday morning before breakfast. Five pounds down (adjusting my weight for clothes and having eaten, etc. on Wednesday), 20 must-lose pounds to go, or 30 I-hope-to-lose pounds to go. The rest will likely come off much slower, knowing my body.

Have I ever mentioned just how much I love carrying all my weight in my torso and hips?

Monday, August 27, 2012

[Dog Shaming - Canine Confessions]

Have you come across this one yet? It's a new site--started this month, in fact--but it's already popular and hysterical. Go on over to http://dog-shaming.com and laugh your guts out.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

[After an Afternoon [Snooze] Delight]

Oh, the first week of classes! I came home today after a long time on campus, sent a friend a text (because I know school tends to make me a little anti-social, so I'm trying to keep that at bay this semester), started rubbing Sassy's belly, and promptly zonked out for the next two-and-a-half hours while lying flat on my back (I was lucky--no sleep paralysis this time... it usually hits if I'm sleeping on my back).

Of course, I do have a good reason to be tired. I'm taking six hours of classes and teaching nine hours. Heck, as a student the first time I was an undergrad, I never took more than 14 hours--usually 12--so 15 hours of teaching and taking is probably going to wipe me out until I get used to it. And even when I woke up, it was only the knowledge that Sassy needed to be let out and the knowledge that I still had homework to do that got me up instead of my rolling back over and snoozing until morning.

I know I can do this, but I'm not gonna lie--it's going to take a bit of an adjustment period. And I still have that homework to do, so I better stop rambling and get to it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

[My Personality, My Past, and Understanding Why I Do What I Do (or Don't)]

...or Dating and Romance in My Late 20s, Take Two.

According to the free, online version of the Myers-Briggs personality test, I am a INFP: moderately introverted, moderately intuitive, STRONG (80%) feeling, and slightly perceiving (it switches over to judging during certain times of the semester--big surprise there). I still remember reading the descriptions of someone with that particular type and wondering who had been spying on me. 

From PersonalityPage.com, a few descriptors in particular stand out (speak up if you think any of this describes me):
[Bold sections emphasized by me, not the original article]
Portrait of an INFP - Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving
(Introverted Feeling with Extraverted Intuition) 
The Idealist

As an INFP, your primary mode of living is focused internally, where you deal with things according to how you feel about them, or how they fit into your personal value system. 
Your secondary mode is external, where you take things in primarily via your intuition.
INFPs, more than other iNtuitive Feeling types, are focused on making the world a better place for people. Their primary goal is to find out their meaning in life. What is their purpose? How can they best serve humanity in their lives? They are idealists and perfectionists, who drive themselves hard in their quest for achieving the goals they have identified for themselves 
INFPs are highly intuitive about people. They rely heavily on their intuitions to guide them, and use their discoveries to constantly search for value in life. They are on a continuous mission to find the truth and meaning underlying things. Every encounter and every piece of knowledge gained gets sifted through the INFP's value system, and is evaluated to see if it has any potential to help the INFP define or refine their own path in life. The goal at the end of the path is always the same - the INFP is driven to help people and make the world a better place. 
Generally thoughtful and considerate, INFPs are good listeners and put people at ease. Although they may be reserved in expressing emotion, they have a very deep well of caring and are genuinely interested in understanding people. This sincerity is sensed by others, making the INFP a valued friend and confidante. An INFP can be quite warm with people he or she knows well. 
INFPs do not like conflict, and go to great lengths to avoid it. If they must face it, they will always approach it from the perspective of their feelings. In conflict situations, INFPs place little importance on who is right and who is wrong. They focus on the way that the conflict makes them feel, and indeed don't really care whether or not they're right. They don't want to feel badly. This trait sometimes makes them appear irrational and illogical in conflict situations. On the other hand, INFPs make very good mediators, and are typically good at solving other people's conflicts, because they intuitively understand people's perspectives and feelings, and genuinely want to help them. 
INFPs are flexible and laid-back, until one of their values is violated. In the face of their value system being threatened, INFPs can become aggressive defenders, fighting passionately for their cause. When an INFP has adopted a project or job which they're interested in, it usually becomes a "cause" for them. Although they are not detail-oriented individuals, they will cover every possible detail with determination and vigor when working for their "cause". 
When it comes to the mundane details of life maintenance, INFPs are typically completely unaware of such things. They might go for long periods without noticing a stain on the carpet, but carefully and meticulously brush a speck of dust off of their project booklet. [Niki's addition: If my mother ever reads this, she'll probably laugh hysterically at how true this statement is about me!]
INFPs do not like to deal with hard facts and logic. Their focus on their feelings and the Human Condition makes it difficult for them to deal with impersonal judgment. They don't understand or believe in the validity of impersonal judgment, which makes them naturally rather ineffective at using it. Most INFPs will avoid impersonal analysis, although some have developed this ability and are able to be quite logical. Under stress, it's not uncommon for INFPs to mis-use hard logic in the heat of anger, throwing out fact after (often inaccurate) fact in an emotional outburst. 
INFPs have very high standards and are perfectionists. Consequently, they are usually hard on themselves, and don't give themselves enough credit. INFPs may have problems working on a project in a group, because their standards are likely to be higher than other members' of the group. In group situations, they may have a "control" problem. The INFP needs to work on balancing their high ideals with the requirements of every day living. Without resolving this conflict, they will never be happy with themselves, and they may become confused and paralyzed about what to do with their lives. 
INFPs are usually talented writers. They may be awkward and uncomfortable with expressing themselves verbally, but have a wonderful ability to define and express what they're feeling on paper. INFPs also appear frequently in social service professions, such as counselling or teaching. They are at their best in situations where they're working towards the public good, and in which they don't need to use hard logic. 
INFPs who function in their well-developed sides can accomplish great and wonderful things, which they will rarely give themselves credit for. Some of the great, humanistic catalysts in the world have been INFPs.

Jungian functional preference ordering:
Dominant: Introverted Feeling
Auxiliary: Extraverted Intuition
Tertiary: Introverted Sensing
Inferior: Extraverted Thinking
And when it comes to relationships:

INFP Relationships

INFPs present a calm, pleasant face to the world. They appear to be tranquil and peaceful to others, with simple desires. In fact, the INFP internally feels his or her life intensely. In the relationship arena, this causes them to have a very deep capacity for love and caring which is not frequently found with such intensity in the other types. The INFP does not devote their intense feelings towards just anyone, and are relatively reserved about expressing their inner-most feelings. They reserve their deepest love and caring for a select few who are closest to them. INFPs are generally laid-back, supportive and nurturing in their close relationships. With Introverted Feeling dominating their personality, they're very sensitive and in-tune with people's feelings, and feel genuine concern and caring for others. Slow to trust others and cautious in the beginning of a relationship, an INFP will be fiercely loyal once they are committed. With their strong inner core of values, they are intense individuals who value depth and authenticity in their relationships, and hold those who understand and accept the INFP's perspectives in especially high regard. INFPs are usually adaptable and congenial, unless one of their ruling principles has been violated, in which case they stop adapting and become staunch defenders of their values. They will be uncharacteristically harsh and rigid in such a situation.

INFP Strengths
Most INFPs will exhibit the following strengths with regards to relationship issues:
  • Warmly concerned and caring towards others
  • Sensitive and perceptive about what others are feeling
  • Loyal and committed - they want lifelong relationships
  • Deep capacity for love and caring
  • Driven to meet others' needs
  • Strive for "win-win" situations
  • Nurturing, supportive and encouraging
  • Likely to recognize and appreciate other's need for space
  • Able to express themselves well
  • Flexible and diverse

INFP Weaknesses
Most INFPs will exhibit the following weaknesses with regards to relationship issues:
  • May tend to be shy and reserved
  • Don't like to have their "space" invaded
  • Extreme dislike of conflict
  • Extreme dislike of criticism
  • Strong need to receive praise and positive affirmation
  • May react very emotionally to stressful situations
  • Have difficulty leaving a bad relationship [Niki's note: this one, not so much. I've seen so many bad relationships that I pay hyper attention to red flags, and as such, I look for an out, even in the early stages, if I see those flags.]
  • Have difficulty scolding or punishing others
  • Tend to be reserved about expressing their feelings [Niki's note: instinctively, yes, but I've honed my skills, at least in writing, in being more outward about my feelings lest others unintentionally end up walking over me.]
  • Perfectionistic tendancies may cause them to not give themselves enough credit
  • Tendency to blame themselves for problems, and hold everything on their own shoulders

INFPs as Lovers
"To love means to open ourselves to the negative as well as the positive - to grief, sorrow, and disappointment as well as to joy, fulfillment, and an intensity of consciousness we did not know was possible before." -- Rollo May

INFPs feels tremendous loyalty and commitment to their relationships. With the Feeling preference dominating their personality, harmony and warm feelings are central to the INFP's being. They feel a need to be in a committed, loving relationship. If they are not involved in such a relationship, the INFP will be either actively searching for one, or creating one in their own minds. [Niki's note: Suddenly, my entire adolescence and early 20s makes perfect sense. It's also why I've become guarded of late, something I'm going to expand on later on in this entry.]
INFPs tendency to be idealistic and romantically-minded may cause them to fantasize frequently about a "more perfect" relationship or situation. They may also romanticize their mates into having qualities which they do not actually possess. Most INFPs have a problem with reconciling their highly idealistic and romantic views of life with the reality of their own lives, and so they are constantly somewhat unsettled with themselves and with their close personal relationships. However, the INFP's deeply-felt, sincere love for their mates and their intense dislike of conflict keeps the INFP loyal to their relationships, in spite of their troubles achieving peace of mind. 
Unlike other types who tend to hold their mates up on a pedastal, the INFP's tendency to do so does not really turn into a negative thing in the relationship. INFPs hold tightly to their ideals, and work hard at constantly seeing their mates up on that pedastal. The frequent INFP result is a strongly affirming, proud and affectionate attitude towards their mates which stands the test of time. 
INFPs are not naturally interested in administrative matters such as bill-paying and house-cleaning, but they can be very good at performing these tasks when they must. They can be really good money managers when they apply themselves. 
Sexually, the INFP is likely to be initially slow to open up to their mates. Once their trust has been earned, the INFP will view sexual intimacy as an opportunity for expressing their deep-seated love and affection. More than the actual sexual act, they will value giving and receiving love and sweet words. With their tendency to enjoy serving others, they may value their mate's satisfaction above their own. 
One real problem area for the INFP is their intensive dislike of conflict and criticism. The INFP is quick to find a personal angle in any critical comment, whether or not anything personal was intended. They will tend to take any sort of criticism as a personal attack on their character, and will usually become irrational and emotional in such situations. This can be a real problem for INFPs who are involved with persons who have Thinking and Judging preferences. "TJ"s relate to others with a objective, decisive attitude that frequently shows an opinion on the topic of conversation. If the opinion is negative, the TJ's attitude may be threatening to the INFP, who will tend to respond emotionally to the negativity and be vaguely but emphatically convinced that the negativity is somehow the INFP's fault. 
For INFPs with extremely dominant Feeling preferences who have not developed their Intuitive sides sufficiently to gather good data for their decision making processes, their dislike of conflict and criticism can foretell doom and gloom for intimate relationships. These INFPs will react with extreme emotional distress to conflict situations, and will not know what to do about it. Since they will have no basis for determining what action to take, they will do whatever they can to get rid of the conflict - which frequently means lashing out irrationally at others, or using guilt manipulation to get their mates to give them the positive support that they crave. This kind of behavior does not bode well for healthy, long-term relationships. Individuals who recognize this tendency in themselves should work on their ability to take criticism objectively rather than personally. They should also try to remember that conflict situations are not always their fault, and they're definitely not the end of the world. Conflict is a fact of life, and facing it and addressing it immediately avoids having to deal with it in the future, after it has become a much larger problem. 
INFPs are very aware of their own space, and the space of others. They value their personal space, and the freedom to do their own thing. They will cherish the mate who sees the INFP for who they are, and respects their unique style and perspectives. The INFP is not likely to be overly jealous or possessive, and is likely to respect their mate's privacy and independence. In fact, the INFP is likely to not only respect their mate's perspectives and goals, but to support them with loyal firmness. 
In general, INFPs are warmly affirming and loving partners who make the health of their relationships central in their lives. Although cautious in the beginning, they become firmly loyal to their committed relationships, which are likely to last a lifetime. They take their relationships very seriously, and will put forth a great deal of effort into making them work.
Sorry... I know that was a lot to read. But I think this information about my personality (which, as I said, is pretty much spot-on) helps to understand why my dating history (or largely, lack thereof) explains why I sometimes create personal roadblocks and will probably never be the one who makes the first "official" move in moving a friendship in the direction of "more than friends," no matter how hard I've fallen.

I do tend to feel things very keenly and make things mean more of a negative reflection on me than I should. And if you've known me for awhile, or at least have followed this blog for awhile, you know that, outside of a handful of first dates (one didn't work out because of awkwardness and his not understanding my sense of humor AT ALL, another because of the distance (I can't afford to travel, so...), and another because, though we had things in common, we did not share anything like a common faith, and, well, that faith thing matters (in my eyes) in an intimate relationship in a way that it doesn't matter with friendship and being pals), I have not dated. I'm nearly 29, and I have not had a boyfriend or even a first kiss *cue shocked gasp from people who can't imagine this outside of a monastery*.

My history with boys, guys, and men has been a constant series of unrequited crushes. To be fair, a few of these guys eventually came out of the closet, and others ended up marrying women who really suit them better than I ever would've done. It's been a long time of frustration, and this whole lack of mutual romantic interest has burned me. I've developed a defense mechanism to try to avoid falling for any guy unless he specifically asks me out (though I do sometimes end up falling after a few good, easy conversations--y'know, a real connection), so you can imagine why, for the past few years, I have not let myself develop any major crushes.

If I do suspect a guy likes me and I think I might like him back, I do actually approach that friendship with "cautio[n] in the beginning..." For this reason, I'm not the woman who will be the first to confess my feelings (at least not anymore). I don't press the guy's space, even if we're friends, because I know how I can get a little panicky when someone presses me too hard about an interest in dating. Herein lies my hypocrisy: I won't be the one to speak up, but because I do tend to fall for those with at least a few similar personality factors, I often am waiting for someone who might be just introverted as I am to make the first clearly-stated move (because, as I implied, I've had crushes that I thought had potential due to our real friendship, but they never saw us as anything more than good friends or pals). I need a potential boyfriend/partner/etc. to be direct but not too pushy about it. "Hanging out" has so often been just that--hanging out--that I will second-guess what seems to be a genuine interest from someone else unless the "d" word is explicitly stated. Double standard alert, anyone?

Oh, and behold, I just proved how true the needing-to-figure-out-the-larger-meaning-of-everything part of being an INFP. I'm telling you... they're spying on me! It's true! *Looks around the house for the hidden cameras*

Until next time, kids! Sorry for the novella--I've been saving this up for quite awhile, and I finally had figured out a way to illustrate why I can be so awkward and clueless about myself and who might be interested despite being able to immediately identify in my friends' relationships. :)

Monday, July 23, 2012

[Personal Blog Makeover Reveal]

What do ya think? Does the background make me look narcissistic or no? I just liked that shot with this filter, so it gave me an idea on how I could work it into the blog design. I'm working on a different banner, but it'll be a couple weeks before I get around to it. Hopefully, soon, I'll have something significant to write on here. For now, I'm swamped with classes and final grades (last week of summer classes!), so most of my brainpower is claimed for now. :)

As always, if you'd like to keep up with my freelance art, follow my art blog:


And (this is new), if you'd like to follow all my art with a focus ONLY on the artwork, follow my art portfolio blog:


Since I'm taking art classes and working toward my BFA in graphic design and painting, there are updates at both sites several times per week if not every day. It's already been a fun, challenging journey, and I appreciate positive feedback.

Until grades are submitted and I get back from my 10-year high school reunion, at which point I'll hopefully be able to take the time to write again, try to stay out of the heat and PRAY FOR RAIN!!!! Seriously. This drought is insane.

Monday, July 09, 2012

[It's Normal--Quote by Ira Glass]

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners. I wish someone had told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase; they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know that it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you finish one piece. It’s only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take a while. It’s normal to take a while. You just gotta fight your way through.”

Ira Glass

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

[On Singleness and Being a Progressive Christian Egalitarian in Conservative Complementarian Territory]

If you keep up with the right bloggers online (or, if you haven't blocked my updates on Facebook and Twitter yet), you're probably aware of Rachel Held Evans prompting a week of discussing mutuality and egalitarian marriage (as opposed to complementarian marriages that place the man in position of being the head of the family, regardless of the two individuals' gifts and personalities). At least in evangelical circles, the complementarian philosophy is extremely popular and often abused.

It probably comes as no surprise, considering my viewpoints on politics, scripture interpretations, and education, that I'm a lifelong egalitarian.

I've read dozens of articles and blog posts (not to mention hundreds of comments) over the past week and a half, and my emotions have yo-yo'ed all over the place. I've also encountered several discussions that deal with those of us who haven't found our future spouses (and who may or may not ever do so). As such, I've been doing a lot of thinking, meditating, and mental wrestling about any number of related topics, and it's difficult to know where to start when it comes to articulating my response. The more I read the wide range of responses from the men in this whole discussion, however, the more I realized how this whole debate (not just in the past week and a half, but all my life) has affected my life. It comes down to two major areas: careers I've considered and decided against, and potential romantic relationships (and, by extension, potential for marriage).

I'm not going to spend much time discussing the career aspect. I'm comfortable and at peace about the direction in which I'm heading, and while certain expectations of women from patriarchal perspectives may have [directly or not] prevented my going into ministry, I don't regret my decision to take this path (only my not doing so a few years ago instead of now). I'm also not going to spend time in this entry debating the subject--just read through some of the incredibly intelligent blogs posted on the Synchroblog to find out why I lean the way I do.

No, what I've thought about the most over the past couple of days is how this dichotomy of different approaches to gender relations has almost certainly been a major catalyst in my having not dated anyone beyond a first date in all of my twenty-eight years.

For one thing, I know for a fact that if Mr. Future Boyfriend or Husband and I do not have a common ground in some key areas, we're probably going to butt heads more than is healthy in a long-term relationship, and since I tend to get my feelings all wound up in a debate, there are definitely some areas where we'd have to have quite a bit in common, but most importantly, these areas:

Faith. I'm not too caught up in finding someone with my exact same theological leanings, but we do need to have that foundation. Too much of what I do and think and say and live stems from my faith and my wrestling with ideas that challenge my understanding of it. I probably wouldn't be a good fit, though, for someone who is a Biblical literalist or who sees the world as only black and white, good and bad, etc.

Politics. Yes, politics. Now, I'm sure I'd get along pretty well with someone a little more moderately leaning than I lean toward the left, but because my convictions for viewing the government's role in our lives are so deeply ingrained in my emotional gravitation toward compassion and not letting people fall through the cracks when life gets the better of them, I would almost certainly would get into some pretty emotionally nasty debates with a partner who leans to the far right and who claims, "They should just pull themselves up by their bootstraps!" Yup. I'd definitely see red there. Note this though: I'm not talking about friends and platonic friendship--I have this rule only for those with whom I'd have a more intimate relationship than even my best girl-friends and guy-pals.

Creativity. No, I don't mean he has to be just as creative as I am. But I do have a creative person's temperament and stereotypical sensitivity. So for me, it's necessary that any partner of mine at least know how to (A) appreciate and respect my creative drive, and  (B) know how to read the signs of my emotions or how to not hit the hot buttons (I'm not good at hiding my emotions, anyway, so the trick is just to know how to tread carefully when I'm in a particular zone).

Willingness to Not Have Biological Children. It ain't happenin' here. It's part personal choice, and part genetic reason for not wanting to pass on certain conditions that make life very difficult, and part the physical risk that I would be taking with my body due to several deformities. I'm open to adoption, but as for my body, I've already decided to schedule tubal ligation before my marriage begins. If a man cannot deal with not passing along his own genes via my body, he's not right for me, and I'm not right for him.

Feminism. I believe in equal rights and equal opportunities regardless of gender, and (pertaining to egalitarianism) roles in a marriage based on individual skills and personalities, not predetermined cultural gender "requirements." Any man who disagrees with this concept (in other words, if he is not a feminist) is not going to get very far in a relationship with me. I am a strong woman who both does and does not fit into the cultural "norms" of "femininity." Putting me in a box will just end up creating a ticking time bomb--something's gonna have to give, and since I'm quite hard-headed, well...

Multiple Interests. I've spent some time on some dating sites, and one of the biggest red flags for me is someone who talks about one thing all the time, whether it be God, sports, or any other topic, even ones with which I agree or share an interest. Look, I'm a Christian. I love Jesus. But I'm also human with secular interests. While my faith can and does influence how I react in many, many facets of my life, I don't talk about the Lord every waking moment of the day. Heck, I don't think about the Lord all the time, either. In fact, because I've witnessed spiritual abuse in many forms, I don't trust someone who does talk about Jesus all the time. Who is that holy besides the Lord? It strikes me as being either false piety or, at the very least, a personality that would make me feel like a dirty soul no matter what I did or said. In other words... be real. There's more to life than _______. Seriously.

Now, this is not a huge list. There are a couple other items (for example, no smoking, someone not quite my biological parents' age (46, 47) or older, and I'd prefer being with someone who hasn't been married before, at least for my first ever relationship), but even if I included those items, it's still a short list. But...

There is a but.

I live in the Ozarks, in Missouri. The conservative Bible belt. There are people around here like me, but we don't always encounter one another. So, to find someone who is Christian (but not overly pious), not hell-bent on passing on his own genes, moderate/independent/democratic, egalitarian, feminist, and supportive of my passions with whom I have chemistry in this area of the country, well...

...it does suddenly make sense why I've never had a boyfriend. I may not have unreasonable expectations, but that combination isn't exactly everywhere around here. Besides, there's this one internet meme that rings particularly true with me:

And incidentally, my dad's the one who exemplifies pretty much most of that list. A man's got a pretty tough example to which he has to live up to win my heart. :)

Besides... as much as I'd love to have a relationship, I've finally arrived to that place in my life where, if it never happens, it's no biggie (most days, anyway). It's a good place to be.