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At the End of the Oregon Trail

August 21, 2014

I reached Portland, OR, the late afternoon of Friday, June 20, so in a way, my cross-country journey ended then. However, I did not arrive at the official “End of the Oregon Trail” in Oregon City until the next morning, Saturday June 21, when I met up with old college friends Elizabeth and Michelle for one of the best days since leaving Marcella and Phillip in Kansas nearly a fortnight earlier.

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Your plucky blogger, standing at the last model wagon she would see for a good long while!

Given that it was at the freaking end of the Oregon Trail, this particular “interpretive center” was a little disappointing. It takes up a good amount of room, but the exhibits feel small, with little information that was not already available at other sites along the route. I knew from reading TripAdvisor reviews that they had undergone a recent renovation, as well as budget troubles, and it kind of shows. As much as I hated Casper, WY, the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center there was one of the best I saw in those 11 days, as was the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Baker City, OR.

I will say that the End of the Trail museum had a section about Oregon roses that was very informative, concentrating especially on roses brought across the continent on the Trail. I did not know that roses are kind of a big thing in Portland. There is also an exhibit that takes a look at some of the real individuals who traveled the trail, and what they did upon arriving in Oregon. For example, Tabitha Brown traveled the trail when she was 66 (already past the average life expectancy in those days), helped found an orphanage, then helped found Tualatin Academy, which eventually became Pacific University in Forest Grove. She also became known as “The Mother of Oregon” and had a WWII Liberty ship named after her. So yeah, age is never an excuse!

The area around the interpretive center was also very pretty…

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…and the gift shop was well-stocked with themed merchandise.

Elizabeth helped me model some of it.

Elizabeth helped me model some of it.

The venue also featured a movie that described the journey on the Oregon Trail, and although the voice acting was hit-and-miss among the cast, there were some very moving moments. One part talked about how the pioneers often had to jettison weight from their wagons. There was a voiceover about a man who cried when he had to dump the rolling pin that had been his mother’s, and how she used it to make the best biscuits, and I definitely cried, too.

After a cruise through the museum, we parted ways—Michelle and I went for lunch in downtown Portland, and later I met up with Elizabeth for dinner. It was a fabulous day full of good conversation and catching up, and seeing some of the sights, like Portland Saturday Market and a naked bike ride. (This was especially funny because in Milwaukee, Laurel and her mother were shocked to see an underwear-themed bike ride, and I was just like, “Pssht, amateurs.”) I don’t think I had seen either Michelle or Elizabeth since our graduation seven years ago. If you want evidence of the benefits of social media, I submit that entire day in Portland, which probably would not have happened without Facebook.

A few people who don’t know me very well were convinced that I would fall in love with Portland. Although I thoroughly enjoyed my time there, the city itself did not impress me. Part of the reason is that I’m not cool/hipster/hippy enough. The types of jobs, food, art, and other recreational activities that draw many people there are not something that I’m interested in. I’m starting to realize that I have simpler tastes than I previously believed. Another reason was that, after spending 10 days driving through small towns, mountains, farms, and ranches, I came to really enjoy less-populated areas. Although I loved the drive along the Columbia River, I found Portland absolutely suffocating. I would definitely go back for another visit, but I’m not cruising Craigslist for apartments just yet.

And there you FINALLY have it, two months later, an account of my final (very successful) day on the Oregon Trail!

Oregon Trail Days Nine and Ten

August 15, 2014

I’m combining two days into one post because there aren’t a lot of pictures, or much to say at all, about either of them. They were good days, just not a lot to say about them.

I realized that I had more photos that I remembered, and also that, upon rereading my initial intro for this blog post, I’m a filthy liar.

Day Nine, Thursday June 19, I did my morning work, used the hotel pool, checked out, and headed over to the Fort Walla Walla museum. This was a cute local museum that had more than I was expecting. There was a room full of Civil War-related items, but as I’m not big on the Civil War, I gave it a pass. They had clothes and other items (including medical equipment) that had been donated by locals. They also had photographs of the graduating classes from a local nursing school, and lots of exhibits on farm equipment.

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This one was so cute and nostalgic I had to share

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For once, this wagon isn’t a model, it’s a real wagon that traveled to Walla Walla!

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Walla Walla is also home to the Washington State Penitentiary, and the Ft. Walla Walla museum has an impressive model cell, with lots of “memorabilia” housed in cases nearby

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They don’t f*** around in Walla Walla

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I didn’t take a lot of photos of the farm equipment, but I couldn’t resist the thresher that was originally powered by what I think were 30 mules. It was very advanced in its day.

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You might be able to click on the image to read the text? Sorry, crappy iPod photo again.

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The inside of the chuck wagon that provided meals to farm hands in the Walla Walla region. I wanted this job until I found out they started their days at like 4am.

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Me with a new friend

There was also an outdoor “pioneer village” set up with buildings that had been collected from the area. Although it was a lot of fun, there was a bit of a “been-there-done-that” feel to it, so I didn’t take a lot of pictures. Although the park area around the fort/museum was very pretty:

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So, funny story. Almost every time I mentioned my Oregon Trail trip to my friend Kara, she would remind me that I was going to be near Mount Hood. I didn’t know much of the geography and natural landscape of the Northwest before I went out there, and I thought Mt. Hood was going to be one of a chain of mountains, and so I was like, “Well, I won’t know which one it is, so it probably won’t matter.”

But as I drove from Walla Walla, WA, to The Dalles, OR, my car rounded a corner on the highway, and …

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… Oh.

After I got to the Dalles and another less-than-great hotel room, I was tired but it was early so I decided that my hair color needed a touchup. So I bought a box of coloring from the Walgreens down the street and spent the evening coloring my hair in a hotel room. I felt like an Alfred Hitchcock protagonist.

So the next day, June 20 . . . that was fun. I got up, did work, checked out of the hotel, and drove to The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, just west of the hotel, and it was one of the top three museums I saw on my trip (to and from Oregon).

It started with the third rainbow of the trip.

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The museum provided history of the Columbia Gorge, including natural history dating back to the Ice Age.

The Game of Thrones fangirl that is still lurking within me somewhere had a bit of a moment . . .

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Yup, that’s a direwolf skeleton.

In several places, the Oregon Trail overlaps with other historic trails, including the Pony Express Route, the California Trail, and the Mormon trail. At the Columbia River, it overlaps with Lewis and Clark’s famous journey, so naturally there was an exhibit for them in the building, as well as very entertaining and informative film shown periodically in the auditorium (bonus points for both Lewis and Clark being played by cute actors). It made me want to learn more about them (and possibly drive the Lewis and Clark route someday) and about Sacagawea, who was a frickin’ badass.

I think the one major complaint I had about the museum was a lack of labeling. There were a lot of items on display in the Lewis and Clark exhibit, but nothing to indicate whether they were authentic items that the explorers had carried with them, or just historically accurate reproductions.

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For example, I don’t know whether these are the ACTUAL spyglass and compass that Lewis and Clark carried with them, and so I don’t know whether I should lose all, or only part, of my little fangirl mind.

There were also exhibits about the industries that were developed in the area, the growth of technology (woo, steamboats!) and towns, and of course a reminder of how dangerous the Columbia river was for the Oregon Trail emigrants.

There was also a lot about the construction of the Historic Columbia River Highway, which I had the good fortune of driving along for a stretch after leaving the museum.

The discovery center also houses several types of raptors. These birds are found in the wild, but kept at the center because they otherwise would not survive, like the red-tailed hawk with a gimpy wing, and used for educational purposes. They had a “show” with a couple of the animals, and the great horned owl kept staring at me.

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Just…not in this photo

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The area surrounding the museum was also gorgeous.

Looking across the Columbia River at what is technically Washington state

Now THAT is camouflage! Anyone want to identify?

This red-tailed hawk is the same beautiful lady who was at the raptor show

Eventually it was time to head out … along that exhilarating historic highway, so close to my journey’s end.

View from Vista House

Does the shape of the building look…familiar to you?

Although June 20 (the day these last photos were taken) is when I technically reached Portland, of which Oregon City is now a suburb, I didn’t reach the official end of the trail until June 21. That’s the next post. ;-)

 

SEX: Why Are You Pure?

August 9, 2014

Originally posted on Maci Shingleton:

unnamed (11)   As a single college student in the middle of Christian culture, people tell me to wait for sex a lot. “Wait until you’re married. It’s better when you’re married!” “Save yourself for your husband, you don’t want to take that baggage.” “Stay pure for your husband, it’s worth it!” All of these encouragements may be true and come from good intentions but they don’t make sense. What if I die tomorrow? What if God doesn’t want me to be married, ever? Why would those reasons be reason enough to remain sexually pure now? With good intentions, many of us in the church have begun telling students to remain pure for their future spouses. That sounds nice, but it is not exactly why Jesus calls us to purity. I remain pure not for my future imaginary husband but for my very real right now God.

   Our desire in being…

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Birthday Post and a Moment of Insight

August 7, 2014

For the first time in YEARS, I did exactly what I wanted to do on my birthday (within the realm of possibility … and propriety).

1. After I finished work, I went for a run (tragically cut short by the death of my iPod’s battery, but 20 minutes is better than none).

2. I went to lunch at my favorite Indian restaurant–actually, my favorite restaurant in the area, period. I had no one with me but my Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics collection. I reread parts of Mere Christianity and laughed and cried.

3. I saw Guardians of the Galaxy, which is hilarious and fun, if not exactly a work of sublime genius.

4. I had cake and lemon sorbet. I ran into a little story in the process. I went to the bakery counter at the grocery because I wanted a specific variety of their cake, which I didn’t see out at the time (I like this store’s white cake, but all I was seeing was marble, white-almond, and yellow). I got to the counter at the same time as an older woman, but she let me go first while she pondered some cookies. The bakery guy went to look for something in the back, so I told the woman waiting, “I’m sorry, I didn’t think I was gonna take very long.”

She said, “It’s ok, it’s probably a sign that I should walk away from these cookies.”

After an awkward pause (because it’s not a conversation with me without at least twelve of those), I said, “Well, life is short, might as well have cookies, right?”

She responded with a surprisingly intense, “That is so true!

Now that I think back on it, she was probably surprised to meet a 20-something woman who would actually tell someone to eat cookies instead of whining about calories or carbs or some dumb sh*t like that.

Then she started telling me about how she had good health her whole life, but was suddenly and recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

I’m standing there like, “UM,” but she hurriedly told me that she was doing well, that the chemo was working, but yes, things can change in an instant, so because I’m young (she observed), I should enjoy it while I can. She added, “And you need to have God on your side.”

I said “Amen to that,” after which she told me that her cancer diagnosis kind of shook her out of complacency, and she was grateful for that. By then, the baker came back and they didn’t have what I wanted so I left and told the woman to take care, and she ended up getting the cookies after saying “Good talking to you!” It was kind of awesome, in a slightly surreal way.

The other great thing about today (and one of the reasons I was crying in a restaurant) was that I read a passage in Mere Christianity that is incredibly relevant to part of my previous blog post. Warning: It’s a long one.

From the chapter on Hope:

Most of us find it very difficult to want ‘Heaven’ at all–except in so far as ‘Heaven’ means meeting again our friends who have died. One reason for this difficulty is that we have not been trained: our whole education tends to fix our minds on this world. Another reason is that when the real want for Heaven is present in us, we do not recognise it. Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. … The longings which arise in us when we first fall in love, or first think of some foreign country, or first take up some subject that excites us, are longings which no marriage, no travel, no learning, can really satisfy. … The wife may be a good wife, and the hotels and scenery may have been excellent, and chemistry may be a very interesting job: but something has evaded us. Now there are two wrong ways of dealing with this fact, and one right one.

(1) The Fool’s Way–He puts the blame on the things themselves. He goes on all his life thinking that if only he tried another woman, or went for a more expensive holiday, or whatever it is, then, this time, he really would catch the mysterious something we are all after. …

(2) The Way of the Disillusioned ‘Sensible Man’–He soon decides that the whole thing was moonshine. … And so he settles down and learns not to expect too much and represses the part of himself which used, as he would say, ‘to cry for the moon.’ This is, of course, a much better way than the first, and makes a man much happier, and less of a nuisance to society. … It would be the best line we could take if man did not live for ever. But supposing infinite happiness really is there, waiting for us? Supposing one really can reach the rainbow’s end? In that case it would be a pity to find out too late (a moment after death) that by our supposed ‘common sense’ we had stifled in ourselves the faculty of enjoying it.

(3) The Christian Way–The Christian says, ‘Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others do the same.’

I’ve read this bit before (I’ve read all of Mere Christianity once before), but that part didn’t have such an impact the first time. It certainly applies to my disappointment with my road trip. I have definitely been guilty of (2), but it hasn’t been as nice as Lewis makes it sound. Smothering hope and joy is never nice.

Perhaps this passage is the best response to my attitude of, “Everything is ultimately a disappointment, so why bother with any of it?” I guess I need to put a little more thought into the things above, and a little less time (though not none, because that would be irresponsible) on where I’m going to live next and who I’m going to (possibly) marry and what my career will look like in five years.

Post-Trip Regroup

August 6, 2014

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have returned from my two-month road trip, and am currently staying at my stepdad’s for the rest of the month, and probably the next, while I get the next step figured out.

I have vowed not to think about (or make any effort toward) deciding where to move, for one whole week. I arrived on Sunday, so I’m going to start the research/thinking/writing/praying on Monday. There are a few contenders for locations, but nothing is hopping up and down going, “Pick me, pick me!”

As I also mentioned in a past post, a lot of this trip has been disappointing. Don’t get me wrong–it was an incredible experience that I am grateful I had. As you can see from the photos, it wasn’t a total loss, and I saw some amazing things. It was an adventure. Just not the adventure I was expecting.

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Obviously, Nebraska was a wild ride from start to finish…

Part of the trouble is that I’m not 100% sure what I was expecting. I guess I did think that something was going to pop out and say “Pick me!” I was hoping for writing inspiration, because right now I need (NEED) a new writing project, but I think my muse died of dysentery on the Oregon Trail. I was hoping for some spiritual time with God that was all sweet-and-lovely like in the cheesiest of worship songs, but my faith has been stretched to the limits–and sometimes beyond them. Not that I haven’t experienced God’s goodness–the fact that I drove across the country and back, putting 6,000+ miles on my car, all without a lick of trouble, is testament enough to that. Nothing that I was afraid of happening, happened–but also, a lot of things I hoped for and even expected, also didn’t happen. Little activities here and there didn’t work out. Also I was not expecting a depression flare-up, least of all one of such length and intensity. Every time I think it’s over, the dragon raises his head again and lets out another blast of fire. My armor is charred, and my heart hurts.

One of the parts of my road trip that I was most looking forward to was actually one of the most difficult and least enjoyable. This past weekend, a group of my college friends gathered at a mutual friend’s in Indiana to visit and catch up and have fun. We try to do this together a couple times a year, and inevitably there are those who can’t make it, so we try to Skype them in. I was really excited, because it seemed like the perfect finale to the two months, so of course it didn’t really turn out well for me.

First of all, last week my insomnia decided to be a bigger arsehole than usual. For several nights in a row, I was averaging 4 hours of sleep each. That already put my emotional state in a pretty precarious position. Then, the weekend turned out to be a two-day seminar of “Everyone Is Better Than You.”

When everyone was gathered together, taking turns on their updates, it was so much more difficult than I expected to hear about someone’s husband or boyfriend, or new baby, or new house, or potential new house, or new/changing/potential jobs, or loving and supportive families and churches. Meanwhile, I just sat there, because that’s all I was–there. Sure, I had my road trip, but everyone knew about it from Facebook and this blog, so I had nothing left to say for myself.

That’s not to say that I’m not happy for everyone else, and absolutely no one was deliberately trying to make me feel inferior–it was all on me, which makes it even more frustrating. I kept thinking how I’m closing in on being 30 and I have essentially moved back in with one of my parents because I don’t know what I’m doing with my life, how I have no church community, how my job is also just kind of there right now, and how I shouldn’t be in this place at this point. I should have a house with a family by now, or at least in my own place with a supportive church family, or working on my second or even third novel. Instead, I feel utterly expendable, completely useless and confused, and absolutely terrified.

So I have a lot of praying and thinking to do. Not exactly how I’d hoped to ring in the next year of my life.

Oregon Trail, Day Eight: A Fortuitous Change of Plans

August 5, 2014

I returned to my stepdad’s house on Sunday, August 3, concluding my road trip at exactly two months (it went so fast)

…and yet this post is about Day Eight on the Oregon Trail, which was June 18. Again, I hang my head in shame. I’m going to try to be better about putting up the rest of my trip photos, at least as far as the Oregon Trail part is concerned. I do have a lot of ideas for unrelated blog posts tumbling around in my brain, so those will be scattered among the trip-related posts as well.

When I left Baker City, OR, I was supposed to stop and camp for the night at Emigrant Springs campground, sleeping in my car for the second time. I must have been delusional when I made those plans, because it was a short drive from one place to the other, with little to see in-between, meaning the original plans wasted most of a day. So I changed my plans and made a last-minute reservation for a hotel in Walla Walla, Washington. It was one of the best decisions of my trip.

I did stop and cruise through part of Emigrant Springs, which is in an old-growth forest in the Blue Mountains.

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Clearly meant for me

The location was a popular camping spot for the emigrants. Being Oregon, though, it was damp, and, as I expected to see some of the same kind of wilderness around Seattle (unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way, but of course I did not know that at the time) I did not stay long.

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I drove on to Pendleton, OR, and visited the Tamastslikt Cultural Institute, which, according to TripAdvisor, “chronicles tribal heritage and the impact of Western migration from the Native American perspective.” It focuses particularly on the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla Tribes that lived in the region. The museum is located next to the Wildhorse Resort & Casino, near the Umatilla Indian Reservation. The exhibits were interesting to see (especially the temporary exhibit on North American wolves), but not as informative as I would have liked. They did not provide a lot of written information about the tribes themselves, their language, and their mythology, even though some of the plaques contain vague references. Maybe I would have been less confused if I had watched the informational video at the start of the exhibit, but the theater was closed for repairs.

There were some spectacular views on the drive that day.

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Before reaching the town of Walla Walla, I stopped at the nearby Whitman Mission Site. This was one of the most moving parts of the entire journey.

It was a little bit out of my way, as it was for the emigrants, as well. I had to drive further north into Washington state, and then back down into Oregon the next day to continue on the main trail route. But in the early days of the Oregon Trail, the Whitman Mission provided a supply of provisions, and even quarters for the winter. I couldn’t not stop by.

DSC01483The Whitman Mission, also known by the name Waiilatpu, was a product of the United States’ Second Great Awakening, founded by Dr. Marcus and Narcissa Whitman to spread the Gospel among the Cayuse Indians and teach them modern (at the time) farming techniques. Language barriers and cultural misunderstandings severely limited the mission’s effectiveness, and eventually the Whitmans focused more on farming and serving the needs of passing emigrants. Narcissa Whitman and Eliza Spalding, the wife of another missionary, were the first two white women to cross the American continent. Their passage in the early 1940s was a major contribution to the popularity of the Oregon Trail, as it proved that the journey could be made by families as well as hardy, wild trappers and natives.

Relations with the Cayuse never really improved, as they feared the growing numbers of pioneers entering their lands and bringing diseases that were new to the Indians. As the Whitmans devoted more time and effort toward caring for the emigrants instead of the Indians, the Cayuse grew even more suspicious. In the autumn of 1847, a measles epidemic spread from the emigrants to nearby Indian villages, killing about half the population. Marcus Whitman could not control the epidemic, and suspicions were further aroused when his treatments seemed more effective among the whites than the Indians.

The Cayuse believed that the Whitmans were practicing bad medicine against them deliberately, which in their view, was a hostile act that required retribution. A group of Cayuse held a meeting to pronounce a death sentence on Marcus Whitman. On November 29, 1847, a small group of warriors attacked the mission, killing 13, including Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, and capturing 49. Some survivors escaped, and some captives died or were ransomed. The massacre triggered a public outcry that led to U.S. retribution and set off the Cayuse War of 1848.

The “Great Grave,” housing the remains of the massacre victims

Part of the reason why this particular site affected me quite deeply is because, as a Christian, I believe in the importance of mission work, and it pains me deeply when efforts to further the Gospel are unsuccessful. There is a very informative video at the Whitman Mission visitor’s center that provides (what I think is) a well-balanced view of the event. I think Marcus and Narcissa Whitman did have good intentions, but they were woefully unprepared for the land and the people they meant to preach to. Part of this was their own fault, and part of it was simply the ignorance of the age. The vast number of factors that contributed to such a tragedy (and when I say “tragedy” I mean both the measles deaths and the deliberate killings) is partly why, I think, it is so heartbreaking.

The history of the Whitman Mission is mentioned in many historical sites and exhibits in this part of the country (including the Tamastslikt Cultural Institute), and it seems to be treated with great reverence, especially at the site itself.

Memorial to the Whitmans at the top of a hill overlooking the mission’s original site

Close-up of the Whitman memorial

The area was as beautiful as it was sad.

View of the mission site, from the memorial

Surrounding farmland, some of which was once owned and cultivated by the Whitmans

A closer look at some of that farmland

Walking path near the memorial

Another view of the site (bonus wagon model)

Archaeologists have done excavating at the site and uncovered the foundations for many of the buildings, including the blacksmith and the Whitmans’ house, where they were killed.

The foundation of the Whitman house, the very spot where they died. This may have been where I started to weep.

Small-scale reproduction of the orchards at the mission

From the Whitman Mission site, I proceeded to Walla Walla itself, where I checked into my hotel before exploring the town.

As with Baker City, I didn’t take any pictures of the unspeakably adorable downtown Walla Walla area. I was too busy enjoying it. There were lots of wine bars and shops, it being in the middle of wine country, as well as clothing stories (upscale and consignment), book stores, a delightful toy store, and a variety of bistros and cafes. The hotel I chose was well within walking distance of all these delights.

I didn’t regret my change of plans for a moment, and now Walla Walla is one of the two top contenders for Where Will Em Live Next?

Photo I “borrowed” from wallawalla.org. Except for the difference in seasons, yes, it is that quaint and pretty.

10 Online Dating Tips (For Men) From Possibly the Most Unqualified Source

July 28, 2014

I recently (as in, this past weekend) ventured back into the world of online dating. Please don’t ask me why, because there isn’t any one reason, much less a logical one. (I hang my head in INTJ shame.) In browsing different dudes’ profiles, I’ve noticed quite a few trends that range from the terrifying to the mildly annoying. Surely I’m not the first person on the Internet to point these out and offer some suggestions, but I can’t resist.

A Lady’s Online Dating Tips — For Men! 

1. Resist the urge to say, “I never know what to write here,” or “I don’t like talking about myself” on your profile. So many guys have variations of this that it’s an instant snoozefest. Here’s the thing: that’s what the profile is FOR. Start with a few traits or desires that you consider important for a dating partner to know about, share a brief but amusing anecdote, or mention an unusual hobby or skill—without getting too personal right away. For example, it’s perfectly fine to admit you are shy, but to go on at length about crippling social anxiety is a bit much.

2. Don’t waste time talking about how nice/chivalrous/gentlemanly you are. This area is “show, don’t tell.” It should be obvious by the way you communicate and the way you behave, and not because we took your word for it based on your screenname (I’m looking at you, nicechivalrousguy4u). Basic human decency should go without saying—and if you don’t have it, we’ll figure it out pretty quickly.

3. Don’t talk about “those other guys” you claim not to be like. This makes you sound defensive right out of the gate. You shouldn’t have to put others down to try to make yourself look good. Ignore those other guys.

4. Too much self-deprecation is just as off-putting as too much arrogance. Having a sense of humor about yourself and a little humility is totally attractive, but too much makes you look, well, pathetic, self-pitying, and like you have nothing to offer. Talk up your good points! Focus on something you’re proud of! Post a picture of yourself with that delicious cake you baked. Go ahead, strike a pose with the classic car you just restored. If you have a disability or other limitation, mention how you work around it. At the same time, don’t be an arrogant jerk who acts like he’s too good for a dating site. (You’re on there for a reason, right?)

5. YOU ARE NOT ENTITLED TO ANYTHING. You are not entitled to a date, or to sex, or even to a reply to your message, whether it’s your first or fiftieth. No woman is obligated to find you attractive or interesting, or to explain why she is or is not interested. If a woman isn’t interested in you, then respect her choices, and make like Elsa and let it go. Keep looking for someone who is interested.

6. If you must ask why she’s not interested, be ready to hear the truth. Some people won’t give you the whole truth, wanting to be nice, but some other women ::cough:: will give you both barrels if you do ask. If this happens, don’t get defensive–just move on to someone else. One guy asked me why I wasn’t interested, so I told him that his shirtless selfies were a turn-off, that I wasn’t interested in someone who already had a kid, and that his terrible grammar was another turn-off. He responded with a huffy, even-more-typo-filled message about how educated he was, and also mentioned a tragic backstory that I could only assume was an attempt to manipulate my emotions. Nice try.

7. PROOFREAD! Proofread, proofread, proofread!!! This goes for both your profile and your messages! Use spell check, read your writing out loud, hire an editor, ask a trusted friend to check it, use whatever you need to find typos. Don’t use text-speak, don’t use poor grammar, don’t use “lol” or emojis or hashtags. We’re not looking for a chapter worthy of Charles Dickens here, just complete sentences! If good spelling and grammar doesn’t come easily to you, put in the effort to make it look like it does. Leaving a bunch of typos, your/you’re confusion, and sentence fragments makes you look lazy and careless, and I can promise you that no woman wants a man with either of those qualities.

8. Use a different message for each woman. Don’t send out a ton of copy/pasted messages. It’s lazy and it’s more obvious than you think.

9. Write a message that’s more than “how r u?” or a one-word greeting. Take the time to read her profile. Ask about what she’s doing in her photo, or the people she’s with. Comment on an interest you both have in common. Ask about her job. Ask for clarification about a preference she indicated on her profile. Make an effort at starting a real conversation that shows you did read her profile.

10. Don’t just comment on her looks. A woman doesn’t want to spend time filling in a profile and considering how she is portraying her personality only to have a guy open with “wow you are pretty.” If there’s nothing on her profile that interests you except her looks, move along. If you do find something interesting, then please refer to #9.

And if you cannot manage all of the above, then just straight-up shoot for the impossible…

11. Be Tom Hiddleston.

 

 

Of course, the problem with a post like this is that the guys most in need of it are the ones least likely to heed such advice, much less seek it out. Still, I live in hope. (Especially for #11…sigh.)

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