Sunday, August 31, 2014

Practice makes perfect?

Never ceases to amaze me how bad I am at online dating, or dating in general. OKCupid is known for having tons of men who send out generic emails to tons of women in hopes of playing a numbers game -- maybe a few will respond. Here are a few examples:

  • Hi pretty how you doing today that is a lovely smile you got right there on your profile pic. Do me a favor always keep that smile on your face.  
  • You have a contagious smile and look that invited me to your profile. I am writing you with hope of sustaining a connection with you, i feel we have a lot we could explore together, i would love to learn more about you if you don't mind. Go through my profile and write me back if anything about me piques your interest. Honesty is important to me and i love the simple things in life. This is my first time on a dating site and am hoping to make it count.....I look forward to your response. Hugs
  • Im Jack, just wanted to say in all honesty. you have to be one of the most beautiful women I have seen in forever. you have stunning eyes and a stunning smile. simply gorgeous   
  • Just wanted to say you are truly a beautiful seem intriguing and classy..I'd love to get to know you better...if you give me the opportunity to... 

But recently I got an initial email that sounded a bit more sincere:

You have one of the best profiles I've seen... gorgeous photo, of course; you really did put some time into it and have a nice way of expressing yourself. Anyway, in addition to liking your comfortable and also confident look in your photos, thought we'd have some things in common... Would be great to hear back from you.

Normally I wouldn't have responded, because he is not Jewish and "somewhat serious" about Catholicism. But I thought he sounded interesting in his profile, and his picture was cute, so I responded:

Thanks :) I like writing, and when I'm with friends, I'm always comfortable & confident. You express yourself well too.

It's been two days, and no response. I'm wondering why. Possibly he's busy; it's Labor Day weekend, after all. But why be so enthusiastic in an initial email and then completely ignore my response? What did I do wrong? Should I not have suggested that I'm only comfortable and confident around my friends? Did I not sound interested enough in him?

Or maybe that's just his initial email to everyone, and someone prettier and younger also responded to him.

I totally suck at dating. Online and offline.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, August 28, 2014

You're not an addict. You're a borderline.

Yesterday I was at an all-day "safety" training, which intends to teach employees how to de-escalate clients who are very upset or angry. The idea is to calm them down verbally before they become physically violent, although you also learn how to break out of various ways people can grab you.

During the training, the topic of mental illness and violence arose -- understandably, since we work with people who have mental illnesses, some of whom occasionally might become violent. The trainer, a program manager, was talking about one of her residents who frequently displays aggressive behavior.

"She's a borderline," said Tessie Trainer. "You know what a borderline is, right?"

Well, no, I don't. I know that some people have borderline personality disorder, and that many of them have difficulty managing their anger and impulsive behavior, so sometimes they are aggressive or violent towards others. (Or themselves.) But it always bothers me when people use psychiatric diagnoses as adjectives. I'm not "bipolar" or "a bipolar." I have bipolar disorder, but it's not my only or my primary defining characteristic.

This became even more striking when Tessie explained how our formerly homeless clients have been marginalized and stigmatized for being homeless or abusing substances. They've been ignored, stepped on, attacked, and labeled.

"I tell them, 'You're not an addict, you struggle with substance use,'" she said.

I didn't think it was my place to point out the glaring inconsistency. First of all, I'm still on probation. Second, I didn't want to call her out in front of everyone. But it bothered me. If we're not going to stigmatize our clients for their substance use, we shouldn't stigmatize them for their psychiatric illnesses.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, August 11, 2014

If Robin Williams had nothing to live for...

I was going to write about a great conversation I had with my aunt Caterina that put all my current employment disgruntlement into excellent perspective. But then Robin Williams lost his battle with bipolar disorder.

I learned about his death on Facebook (where else?) after a tremendous busy day of bossing people around and doing important work. I was feeling extremely accomplished and effective. In large part because my aunt Caterina, a retired psychiatric nurse, understood exactly the frustration and confusion I've been experiencing. She is probably the most sensible, grounded, level-headed person I know. She sees people for who and what they are.

I never thought Caterina would have had the exact same problems I've had negotiating this agency -- or previous agencies. But she has. She's experienced the exact same frustration and confusion. And she's a hell of a lot more normal than I am. I assumed there was something wrong with me, not knowing when to take initiative and when not to overstep, after being criticized for both shortcomiongs in what seemed an almost random manner. I thought I just wasn't getting it, and she always, effortlessly, knew what to do.

She didn't. And she was attacked and criticized for bogus reasons, like I have been. And she had the rug pulled out from under her more than once. And she was set up and knocked down. And there's nothing wrong with her.

So if it happened to her, I can't blame myself if it happens to me. There is much less wrong with me than I thought.

This was a huge and empowering relief, and I breezed through today. Deployed my direct reports strategically, gave directives and organized workflow. Chaired a clinical meeting, monitored the progress of various projects, supervised my ass off. I came home tired but satisfied with a good day's work done. Then I saw Robin Williams committed suicide.

On a human scale, it's tragic. He had children. You wonder how someone so accomplished and beloved could feel that life is not worth living, that it's just unending pain. But he damaged the pleasure centers of his brain with years of substance abuse, leaving him prey to anhedonia, one of the most insidious depression symptoms. The inability to feel pleasure and joy. Ironic, since he provoked riotous joy for so many.

People with bipolar disorder are the most successful suicides. That is, our fatality rate is highest. The next highest suicide rate is found among middle-aged white men. Robin Williams was 63. Only 19 years older than I am.

Who knows where I'll be and how I'll be feeling in 19 years. I certainly couldn't have anticipated the life I have now when I was 22. I don't have to worry about that right now. But I'm personally saddened by this loss.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mazal tov -- it's a submucosal fibroid

Friends of mine, after more than a decade of trying, recently had a baby, and I am genuinely delighted for them. This is not always the case when I learn that someone has had a baby. Because I'm essentially not a very nice person, when someone I don't know and love who is much younger than I am has children, I am sometimes envious. Depending on how cute and/or annoying the children are.

Yesterday, I had a pelvic sonogram to determine the extent of my fibroid growth. It's actually a two-part exercise. First you drink a few gallons of water and wait forever until an ultrasound tech rubs gel on your distended belly and pushes a probe around on it. Then you urinate and the probe goes inside you. I have decided that it's only as invasive as you allow it to feel, so at this point -- my fourth or fifth go-round -- it doesn't really phase me. What shook me was seeing the image of my uterus with a submucosal fibroid.

There are three kinds of uterine fibroids: external (subserosal), internal (submucosal), and in-between (intramural). The Mayo Clinic does a great job of explaining the various symptoms each type causes. I will spare you the details of the symptoms I experience; just know that I'm coping with frequent discomfort and increasing pain.

I've never really paid attention to the ultrasound screen. But after the less invasive half of the procedure, I went to the bathroom, and when I got back to the exam room, the tech had stepped out. So I looked at the monitor and saw an image of my uterus with a misshapen bulge inside.

We've all seen sonogram images; it's no longer a mystery. People share them with co-workers and post them  on Facebook. So I knew what I was seeing. It just cut me deep that I wasn't looking at an embryo. A baby. Which is almost all I've ever wanted since I was, I don't know, five years old?

Gloria Chang started chatting with me on Facebook later that evening. I told her I'd had a pelvic ultrasound. She asked what it was like.

Physically uncomfortable & slightly painful. Always makes me bleed. Emotionally, it was wrenching. Looking at the picture of my uterus with a lifeless lump growing in it.

And that's all I have to say about that.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, July 27, 2014

I really don't know what to think

Dating has been as per usual lately, which means it sucks. I had one date with a guy that didn't go anywhere. When I got in the car, he said, "You look just like your pictures!" Presumably a good thing, since he contacted me initially. But it wasn't a great date, and I never heard from him again. I should have probably called my friend the dating coach for a de-briefing, but I didn't want to think about it.

And I've been hearing from the same kind of weirdos I normally attract. I've live-tweeted some online conversations, which is probably not as interesting as other live-tweeted events, and shared some especialy nasty correspondence. I've done this on both Facebook profiles, and I probably shouldn't. At a recent potluck picnic, two men informed me that reading what these men had to say -- and what I had to say about them -- was demoralizing to them. Which means they find it unflattering to me.

So I will stop posting about the losers I date on the "real" Ayelet's page, and limit that to Ayelet Survivor. This is the latest... let's say "passionate" email I recently received from a man who lives in California.

Hello ayelet First of all, let me start by saying that I was blown away by your beautiful smile and i find you so very attractive. A little more about me, I am a good person, I am loyal, giving, funny, I laugh alot. I value honesty greatly, I am a one man woman, meaning when i am serious with someone, there is no one else. You're such a very beautiful and charming woman and am sure you hear that everyday, why in the world is a very beautiful woman like you still single? My profile wont be up for too long, I'm on here with the 3days trial, if you would love for us to get to know each other, you can write me on 323) xxx-xxxx or send email to @ gmail . com Or here on yahoo messenger duelove789 @ yahoo .com I'll be counting the seconds until i hear back from you.. Take care

(The man I went out with recently also asked me why I'm still single. I guess he discovered the reason during the course of the date.)

Since Passionate Guy (PG) says his profile won't be up for long (which probably just means he won't be active on the site), I'll share his "About Me":

I am a very generous person in that I give quality time and make people feel special. I am a man who acts according to his moral principles. I'm a very confident person and love being a man of substance. I feel that I am "spicy" - alive, spontaneous and love life and everything it has to offer. I am looking for a woman that has a sense of direction in life, confident, sensitive, energetic, and most definitely thirst for knowledge and continuously striving for growth - whether that being spiritual, emotional or intellectual. I believe in the beauty of life. I will never choose to sit out.I want every drop I can squeeze out of I need a partner who sees the world as a great place to be and one who will never loose that sense of the wonders that life has to offer. I am looking for an honest and fun loving woman who is opened to the world...bright, a "doer" and not a "follower"...a creator more than a consumer - provocative, curious, and original - someone with presence. A lover and a friend..worldly, settled, very sensual and articulate - with a PHD in kissing, of course! Above all, a person to share ones intimate feelings and build a true partnership with honesty and integrity...where there is peace and harmony together...invites more laughter than tears...and after the connection you can intelligently discuss a wide range of topics. I am seeking a partner to mutually navigate the obstacle course of life... someone to help each other overcome life's help heal the wounds when we falter. The truth to be told, - I'm looking for that someone. I am a big believer that the love you put in is love you get in return. The canvas of my passion is a large one and it would be wonderful to add new depth, enhance meaning and more love to this masterpiece/work in progress. Might it be you? I love a woman who is young in heart and who has not lost the ability to play - with words, with dreams, with thoughts, with me! I love down to earth kind of people...are you one of them? I am a people person and love entertaining at home. Love sincere, compassionate, passionate, and empathic folks! I do not create or surround myself with people who feed off of DRAMA. I love cities deep in history, art and architecture...and the art of conversation. I believe that a good relationship is initially built on friendship.No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each others worth.Miles may lie between us, but we're never far apart for friendship is not calculated in distance;it is measured by a heart that brings happiness that gold nor silver can't buy.   
A whole lot of cliches, and is PG for real? It's pretty clear his first language isn't English. But he strikes me as intense, at best, weird and scary at worst.

It always seems kind of weird and scary when someone gives you his email address in the initial contact and urges you to email him off the site right away. But am I judging him too harshly? I really don't know at this point.

Often I think that my judgment of some men is vindicated by the unpleasant way they react when I decline to meet them in person. But the question still hangs in the air: why am I still single?

For guidance, I contacted Rochel, the dating coach. I emailed her PG's initial contact and "About Me." Her response was succinct:

I wouldn't bother, something is off about him

I thanked her for confirming my suspicions.

You're welcome, he seems really nutty

She's married. And she consults with numerous women, so she's seen a lot of dating correspondence. Even more than I have, which is hard to imagine. So I'm not contacting Passionate Guy. Whatever the reason I'm still single, he doesn't have the solution.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"