The Continuing Adventures of Karma’s OnLine Dating: Entry 68
Jul 29th, 2017 by Dr Karma

Did you say, after sex (which you proclaimed “amazing”), when I was naked and vulnerable, “Are you pregnant?”

Why was my first thought “I would feel hard, not squishy, if I were”?

Why did you put us in the position to have this conversation?

Me: I’m not pregnant. I’m heavy.

You: You’re not heavy . . .

Me: Yes. I am. Obviously.

Was it a good idea to try to change the conversation, which made me have to change it back?

Me: That really hurt me. And I’m going to hear that in my head for the foreseeable future.

You: Well, I just say whatever comes into my head. So I’ll probably make you angry a lot–I do that.

Umm, why didn’t you apologize?

Did you know I’d managed to bite my tongue so many times?

Why hadn’t I said, upon seeing it, that your dick was not as big as you’d claimed?

Why, by the way, did you, unprompted, warn me about how big it was?

Was it hope that you could get better with training that made me refrain from saying I was disappointed with your first efforts at pleasing me?

Was is that it would have been cruel?

Was it that I know that hearing certain things can shake one’s confidence for years to come?

Would I ever have told you that you aren’t as smart as you think you are? That it’s not your personal “secret” that you “figured out on [your] own” that a key to the GRE is to look for Greek and Latin roots in unfamiliar words?

Had you not considered that I have a PhD in English?

Have you heard of mansplaining?

Do you know how hard I worked not to laugh at you right then?

Why did you keep texting me after I politely declined to see you again?

Why did you think I needed to reconsider breaking it off?

Why were you so convinced that we had a great connection?

Have you figured out the big mistake by now?

Why did it take me months to write about this?


How many more months and years will I spend dreading what comes next–when that question, those words, will come, unbidden, as I make myself vulnerable with a new person?

How will I live with its echo in my head?

Our Month in Oxford
Jul 23rd, 2017 by Dr Karma

The Boy and I left Oxford today.

We are knackered.

In addition all the colleges we visited and the Harry Potter Studio Tour, we enjoyed the following pubs:

Bear Inn; Old Tom; The Trout; The Mitre; The Eagle and Child; The Cow and the Creek; The Head of the River; The Oxford Retreat; Turf Tavern; White Rabbit; The Crown; Chequers; The Oxford Democrats Club (where we played Aunt Sally) (I may be forgetting a few, but I got to try some nice gins and the boy got to try some nice ginger beers). 

We at at many cafes and restaurants, notably these: Oxford Grill (fresh Turkish food); Kazba (Spanish); Shanghai 30s (a Michelin rated Chinese place near where we were staying); Nandos (a longtime favorite, although the Oxford one we visited wasn’t great); The Opium Den; The Old Tom (really great Thai food); Shezan (wonderful Indian); Chutneys (they did our closing feast–and it was great); and Cafe Loco.

We spent a lot of time in book stores, including Waterstones, opened by Phillip Pullman, checked out The Oxford Museum, did a sunset river cruise, peeked around the Modern Art Gallery, were overwhelmed at the Pitts River Museum,

A small part of the Pitts River Museum

watched an orchestra rehearsal at Saint Mary’s Church (and had scones in the cafe there–in basically the oldest college building in all of Oxford),

St. Mary’s

had a Sunday Roast, toured Blenheim Palace (the ancestral home of Winston Churchill),

My favorite spot at Blenheim

Mr Churchill

part of the palace

found our way into the Picture Gallery at Christ Church, got a fun and informative guided tour of Oxford Castle, took the students on a guided literary tour of Oxford, including the walkway that influenced CS Lewis and the Divinity Room, where many Harry Potter scenes were filmed,

CS Lewis walked by this every day; there’s a lion on the door and a lamp post a few feet away.

The Divinity Room

spent an hour an a half at the Rollright Stones (though our bus driver anticipated we’d only need fifteen minutes),

The Whispering Knights

As featured in Doctor Who: Stones of Blood

Students & I in a piece of art in the woods by the Stones

The Rollright Stones

gaped at The Ashmolian,


Athena at the Ashmolean


adored The Botanical Gardens,

Botanical Gardens

Botanical Gardens (or Wonderland)

took a bus up to the Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock, saw scientific instruments galore at the History of Science Museum, failed repeatedly to stop a global pandemic in a board game cafe, experienced Alice Day

Getting ready for an Alice Day performance

The Story Museum

Alice Day!

. . .

Oh, and we read.

Lots and lots of books.


In London, I got to tour the Beefeater Gin factory, see The Philanthropist, Queen Anne, and Our Ladies of Perpetual Succor (meh–this is the first thing from The National Theatre of Scotland I haven’t loved), visit the Charles Dickens House, and check out the Gay Life in London exhibit at the British Library.

An amazing class–with wonderful, smart, invested students–got taught too.

at Jesus

Oxford: Portal to Fantasy 2017

The most dapper on-site coordinator

Oxford–we’ll miss you.

And we’ll be back.





The Continuing Adventures of Karma’s OnLine Dating: Entry 67: When Cougar Bait Tries Too Hard
Jul 18th, 2017 by Dr Karma

A guy with a very young looking picture, but whose profile says “32” messaged me:

Him: I’m really 21 and …

I’m looking for a stunningly pretty (like you are) and sexperienced older woman like you to teach me everything and let me be please her in every way like going down on her for hours, does that interest you? :)​.

Me: Nope. I’m looking for more than a toy.
Have a great day.

Him: Damn that sucks, I thought we were a perfect match :/

Me: How could we be when you’re 21 and when I’m looking for something serious?
My son is turning 24 this month, for fuck’s sake.

Him: I am looking for something serious with a sexy older woman like you.

Me: You’re looking for sex tutoring, according to your message. That’s not the same thing.

Him: What if I wanted both?

Me: You’re 21. I’m twice your age.

Him: I like that. Do you like younger?

Me: No. I like men, not boys.
It would be super creepy if I were into boys younger than my son.

Him: Okay sorry to bother you.


I just can’t imagine dating someone who could be The Boy’s younger brother . . .


Also, I remember dating in my 20s; I don’t want anything to do with that again.


Oxford: The Colleges
Jul 16th, 2017 by Dr Karma

Oxford University has 38 colleges. The different colleges, from my understanding, are mainly about accommodation–you take classes with everyone at the University, but your college is where you live and eat and play. You apply to a specific college within the larger umbrella of Oxford U–and they want you to be a good fit; in addition to high scores, you have to pass an interview at the college–and they interview three times the number of people they’ll take.

My students are staying at Jesus (this allows for much wordplay–“Jesus doesn’t want you bringing strangers back to your room,” etc.). I’d once stayed at Mansfield for a conference, and I’d toured Exeter before because an ex went there.

Me at Mansfield

Tolkien’s bust at Exeter

Each college has its own beauty, its own style. I was excited to sneak into All Souls because of the Deborah Harkness Triology (I just taught the first book). All Souls doesn’t have any undergraduate residents, and reportedly has the best wine cellar, but the grounds are not the most beautiful. My favorite thing was the view of the next door Camera.

The Radcliffe Camera (viewed from All Souls)

We toured Christ Church as a group–with a lovely guide, Felicity. Even though she’s not a Potter fan, she dutifully showed us the places they shot three Harry Potter scenes there. The hall at Christ Church is what the hall at Hogwarts is based on. They didn’t let the movie people film there–the hall is old, and the pictures are priceless.

One picture, of a man named Strange who had a fondness for Father Christmas clothes (he was likely going for a different look), has eyes that follow you all around the room.

Christ Church is built on the site of a nunnery. The nunnery of St. Frideswide was the first place to be recorded in writing about Oxford, though people had been there for at least a thousand years before. Cardinal Wolsey first started this church; Henry VIII finished it, after he finished Wolsey.

Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson) was a tutor here (of maths and logic)–he was friends with the head of the college–John Liddell. Alice Liddell asked that a tale he made up for her on a river trip be written down–and thus we have Alice in Wonderland. Many people, places, and situations of the college are figured into the tale, including Dodgson the Dodo and Alice’s chronically late father.

Christ Church from the street

Christ Church

He sees you when you’re sleeping–or wherever you are in that room!

St. Frideswide

Balliol was a delightful surprise–lovely gardens and grotesques (they’re only gargoyles, apparently, if they have water drains).

I’m a dragon, disguised as a tree.

Shhh. I’m reading.










Oriel (like many of the colleges) was a few minutes’ walk from our place. We went in one beautiful overcast day.

Seeing this view from the gate made me want to visit.

Closeup of the Oriel main view.

roses on the Oriel wall

This lion has very visible dick and balls. After I saw this at Oriel, I saw it everywhere.

University College is the oldest–the first with a land grant claim. It’s also the college with the Shelley monument. Shelley was actually kicked out of this college for refusing to answer questions about an atheist pamphlet he wrote.

University College Library

Shelley, worn out after exams. Or drowned. Or something.

We also went to Merton.

Me at Merton

This is one of the few pictures of me from this trip. The boy makes this face and sound when I ask him to take one:

Corpus Christi, according to the website, was open to visitors. Although the website was wrong, I talked our way in, with the help of a porter, who was eager to let me do so, even going so far as to say, “I’m trying to help you here,” when I started to back off the request.

We don’t know what this corner of Corpus Christi is, but we like it.

A few students and I went across the street to Lincoln, where we got to see its jaw-droppingly beautiful library. You can all see it in the new Transformers film, apparently.

My favorite college so far, however, has been Magdalen. We toured it as part of our exploration of CS Lewis, but its famous alumni are many, including Oscar Wilde, Dudley Moore, Cardinal Wolsey, and former UCD Campus Author Nick Kristof.

reminds me of home in Florida

We are convinced there are puzzles of this scene.

the duckery


There were carved wooden thrones along all the paths.



Harry Potter Studios
Jul 15th, 2017 by Dr Karma

I’m sorry in advance for how awesome this is.

You see, most people can’t say that they’ve been able to take a group of university students to the Harry Potter Studio Tour as just another day on the job.

When you get there, you see this: 

And then you wander around and see so much more!

The Way to the Common Room!

Dumbledore’s staircase!

sleeping headmasters!

The Potions’ Room!

John Cleese’s head!

Size Technology!

An elusive Dante smile!









The Continuing Adventures of Karma’s OnLine Dating: Entry 66: When they threaten to “do masturbate.”
Jul 9th, 2017 by Dr Karma

If I’ve already told you I’m not interested, why would you message me a week or a month later asking for a hookup?

Guy 1: Hello I’m jesse you have amazing eyes!

Me: Hi, Jesse. Thanks for the compliment. Unfortunately, I don’t want to date someone as far away as Stockton. I hope you have a wonderful day!

Guy 1: Ty sexy

11 days later:

Guy 1: Hello I would love to give you a Australian kiss! 

[That’s a random offer to go down on me.]

Me: I’m not interested in hooking up with you.


In May, I had a frustrating conversation with Guy 2. His profile was pretty blank, he hadn’t answered many questions, etc. When I told him I wasn’t interested b/c of that, he wrote more and answered more questions, which was helpful in that it allowed me to see that we weren’t at all compatible. Took a while to shake him, though–he just kept hounding me. Then I finally thought he’d gone away.

A month later:

Him: Hi how you doing

Me: I’m still not interested in pursuing a relationship.

Him: I know I just asked how u doing

Me: I’m busy–I’m overseas at a conference. I’m not sure why you’re messaging me.

Him: Oh nice .. have fun

A little later:

Him: I was looking for hookups and I u r pics turn me on

Me: How strange. On May 12th, you wrote this to me: “I am also not looking for casual sex..”

So I guess you were lying.

Him: I’m not laying on that time .but I haven’t had sex for last 8 months and I was so much turn on last night

And your profile I always like and you pics turn me on so much

Me: I’m not interested in you.

Him: I know I was just trying my luck if you are ready for hookup with me but that’s fine I can watch porn and do masturbate

Me: I will never want to hook up with you.
Enjoy your porn.

And now he’s blocked.



The Continuing Adventures of Karma’s OnLine Dating: Entry 65
Jul 7th, 2017 by Dr Karma

Remember the homophobe who admitted he was one and then denied it and said he wasn’t interested any more since I was being so tiring by maintaining the consistent position of being not at all interested in him (entries 61 and 62)?

He wrote. Again.

Him: Why are we sometimes 79% match and some other time different than 79% ? I thought about what you said and you were right. I was new on the site and did not answer your questions correctly. It has been very time consuming and no results 🙁 Probably i am not good in this internet thing.

Me: I haven’t looked at your profile lately, so I don’t know if the numbers are changing.
If you changed some of your answers or answered more questions, then that would shift the number.
OKC might also be running an test.

Him: Thanks for your kind explanation.

Are you on line and drinking wine?

Me: I’m teaching in Oxford, UK this month. I’m eating breakfast and prepping for class.

And I’m not interested in chatting; this isn’t going anywhere.

Him: My apologies. Here is 4 days holidays and late at night. My mom saw your profile and thought you are the best 🙂 Sorry. Enjoy your trip and good luck in your class. I always felt you are high caliber intelligent person but not to this extent. Forgive my ignorance and wrong assumptions.

Two days later:

Him: so how did your class go? Would you share what was the subject or do you have any scripts of your lecture?I am just curious nothing more. I have a very strong personality and i am very independent and do not expect anything just curious 🙂

Part of the problem thus far is that I tend to answer people if they say more than “hi.” There’s this sense of politeness. But, again, I’m reminded of a fact I’ve written about before. In online dating, women are more often than not punished for being polite.

This post talks about what one man serially does to women. In the example cited at length, he claims he’ll leave the uninterested woman alone–if she engages–and quickly turns abusive when she doesn’t.

And what’s up with the mom comment?

Maybe he should let her read what he wrote to me, and then she can tell him why he’s now blocked.

Cardiff 2017
Jul 4th, 2017 by Dr Karma

On the way to London from Swansea, I stopped in Cardiff for a day.

It was hot–too hot–and bright, but I still headed to the Cardiff Castle, where I learned about its history, including the fact that it was only in the Victorian era that Cardiff discovered the castle was built on a much older site–a Roman legion fort. They cleared away centuries of dirt to uncover the old walls, demarcated by the red line in the brick.

Richard III, for Vanessa

The library at Cardiff Castle












Monkeys are a popular decoration in castles.

For a little longer, Cardiff is also home to the Doctor Who Experience, which I’d visited in London years ago with Courtney. The guide told me the experience was significantly different here. It wasn’t, but I still took some pictures.

Monkey went with me.

Cardiff is also the home to the Torchwood Institute. And Ianto’s Shrine.

The Continuing Adventures of Karma’s OnLine Dating: Entry 64
Jul 3rd, 2017 by Dr Karma

Him: I see, through thirty
Getting older, every day
My soul drawing pictures
Of innocent times
Can you add, color, inside these lines i want u to lead me take me somewhere one day 🙂

Me: Hi; thanks for your message.
I generally don’t answer people with minimally-finished profiles.
Based on your answers to questions, we are probably not looking for the same thing. You say you’re looking for a woman to have children with–I’m done with all that. You also say your relationship with God is important; I’m an atheist.

Him: you dont know me

I see, through thirty
Getting older, every day
My soul drawing pictures
Of innocent times
Can you add, color, inside these lines i want u to lead me take me somewhere one day 🙂

Me: I don’t know you–and your profile is pretty blank. But I did read the answers to the couple of questions you answered, and I’m not seeing much compatibility.

Him: I see, through thirty
Getting older, every day
My soul drawing pictures
Of innocent times
Can you add, color, inside these lines i want u to lead me take me somewhere one day 🙂

Me: Cutting and pasting that pick-up line over and over again isn’t encouraging me to have a conversation.
I hope you have a good holiday weekend and that you find the perfect woman for you!

Him: yolo berry yogurt thanks i will

WTF was that?

Storytelling for Health 2017
Jul 2nd, 2017 by Dr Karma

What is the relationship between art and health?

Who owns a story?

How do we best craft a story to be heard?

Can any story be true?

Last month, I ventured to Swansea, Wales to attend the Storytelling for Health conference, which featured academic panels and performances. I found myself drawn to the latter, having found myself already at quite a few academic health science & art/humanities conferences lately.

A woman with Parkinson’s interweaved her story with the legend of an old king.

A cast of four brought us the heartbreaking tale of a woman who lost six pregnancies.

A woman whose mother nursed her through a stroke talked about language and where it went when her mother was afflicted by stroke as well.

A storyteller gave us three narratives about cancer.

A multimedia performance: All About My Tits.

The keynote performance was by The Devil’s Violin–an amazing storyteller, Daniel Morden, with a violinist and cellist. The work, Stolen, was fable, fairy tale, and allegory, one created when Morden was undergoing cancer treatment. It was, quite simply, one of the best things I’ve ever seen.

I was apprehensive the next morning, when Morden was in the audience for my performance, Chronic Pain: A Comedy. I was the first performance of the morning, and I’m very glad that they moved me to before the cancer trilogy. Even though the room was small, I asked for a mic to better signal the comic nature of what I was doing–trying to make people laugh with me at my pain.

And it went well. They gasped when they were supposed to, laughed when they were supposed to. But I really knew it had gone over well when the staff at the theatre came up to me afterwards to talk about it. Mostly, people had questions. Why do Republicans in the US fight for something that will mean some people won’t have access to care? Why would anyone support a system in which someone could pay over a thousand dollars for an ER visit, even with insurance? Why would anyone support a system that can bankrupt someone who gets sick or disabled or gets into an accident? Had I really ripped my urethra? (The longer version–a first draft in Davis–can be seen here.)

This was one of the best conferences I’ve ever been to–and not only because it allowed me to discuss issues in a non-academic format, but because it encouraged real conversation and provoked real questions. The woman who talked about her breasts showed them to us at the very end of the performance, but then discovered in the Q&A that we hadn’t reacted to them in the way she assumed. She thought we would compare them to the young breasts we’d seen earlier and find hers wanting. We thought they were beautiful.

When Morden did a Q&A toward the end of the conference, he talked about how hard it was to talk about himself. Indeed, he was “just” the narrator of Stolen, not a “character,” and one wouldn’t know the real-life issue that inspired it. He said he couldn’t work well in first person.

I wonder why I can, why I write creative nonfiction instead of fiction.

It can’t just be because I’m American. 🙂

Swansea was also beautiful, from its castle to its waterfront.

I’m very much hoping to return next year.









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