Thursday, June 28, 2007

Uneven results

My morning class was canceled, so I decided to use the time productively and gave myself a pedicure. The results were less than professional. Better than when I let Shira and Malka do my toes, but definitely much worse than a salon job.

It's hard to reach your toes with a steady hand, especially when there's extra padding bulking up your midsection. I didn't get rid of all the dead, dry skin. The polish pooled at my cuticles, which looks sloppy, although I used a very light shade to diminish that effect.

And it wasn't relaxing. When I get a pedicure, I sit in a massaging chair, reading a silly gossip magazine. My feet dangle in a mini-whirlpool and are are scrubbed, massaged, and exfoliated. It feels sublime. I unclench completely.

Including tip, a pedicure costs about $20. The results generally look good for about a month, decent for another 2-3 weeks after that. Right now, I don't have so many pleasures in life. Maybe I shouldn't practice this particular little economy.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Somehow, I'm coping with the rejection

So I'm back to surfing dating websites. I noticed one guy right away: his screenname is "TakeAChanceonMe." I found this ironic because I sent him an email and he never responded. He's 39, with a broad build (not my favorite kind, but unlike some people, I try to be reasonably openminded about my preferences).

Clearly it's not my loss -- this is a quote from his "What I'm Looking For" section:

Strategic curves are a plus. Someone once told a family member if you don't like redheads-well over time if you marry one--it will bother you more and more. I stronglyl prefer women under 35. That said, if you went to any ivy...yada yada...i can run you on my excel spread sheet and see what the formula says.

Actually, *I* went to an Ivy League school. But don't do me any favors.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

My lucky day

Q: What are major depression and domestic violence?
A: Two of Ayelet's areas of expertise! (Only the former through personal experience, fortunately.)

Today I had a midterm. We were given two case studies of people who had some kind of mental disorder, and we had to diagnose one of them according to the DSM and come up with treatment suggestions. One character had some kind of psychosis. I didn't spend much time on her because the other character was a 30something woman who was depressed after leaving her abusive husband of five years.

Needless to say, I tore through that exam very quickly. It was the easiest test I've ever had (or will ever have) in grad school. I was lucky. But I was a little cranky. I'd dragged my 9,000-pound DSM to the class because it was an open-book test. So had the professor -- in fact, he had 2 DSMs, and I could have borrowed one instead of exposing my shoulder and back muscles to the risk of serious knots and spasms.

On my way home, after a looooooong day, I wasn't feeling lucky. The weather's been sticky-hot, and rain was threatening. I caught the bus after a minimal wait (sometimes I've waited so long, I could almost have walked home faster) and hurried from the stop to my apartment building. And I was thinking to myself, "I'm not lucky. Bad things happen to me. I'm just not a lucky person." I can't remember why I was thinking that, but it's a train of thought I ride from time to time.

Just as I put my key in the front door, rain began bucketing down. Lucky me; I missed getting drenched. It was like Gd was saying, on cue, "You're not so unlucky all the time, either."

I went upstairs to relax for a bit and waited out the rain; then I went to the pharmacy to pick up my 3 prescriptions. (That's a stroke of luck right there. I used to take 5.) At the pharmacy I found the fast-drying nail topcoat that had eluded me during a search of 6 -- six -- drugstores near my internship. (I have vague ambitions of giving myself pedicures as a small money-saver. So far I've bought the topcoat and the foam toe separators, but I haven't actually painted any toes yet.)

Walking home from the pharmacy, I decided to stop by Adir and Alona's to pick up the Benefiber I'd tried to sell them. (They found a few containers that they'd put away for Pesach, so they didn't need mine, and right now I could use a bit of fiber from time to time, although not as much as I did a few months ago.)

Alona limped to the door and let me in: "I just had foot surgery," she told me. "I don't know what I'm going to do. I can't wear any of my shoes. I need to go shoe shopping!"

"Try mine," I suggested. I was wearing the slides I wore on my rainy date with the Knight. It was actually the first time I'd worn them in weeks, and I was a little worried that I'd have the same slip-slidy problems I had last time if it rained on my way back from the pharmacy, but I already had them on so I just went. Alona tried them, and while they're a bit too small, they're better than anything she currently has. She's going to use them until the weekend, when she gets a chance to shop for something better.

Alona lent me a pair of her shoes to walk home in; I was worried, initially, because they seemed to fit me and her feet are supposed to be half a size bigger than mine. Had I gained so much weight that my feet increased another half size? Walking home, I was relieved to discover that the shoes actually are too big for me.

I got home, logged on, and found this fabulous article. Apparently antidepressants pose very little danger to developing fetuses! That's great news for a woman who's going to be taking them for the rest of her life and would like to have a baby or three.

So I didn't win the lottery, or find the man of my dreams. But I had a good day, and more than a little luck.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Must I change to make a man love me?

Went to a lecture Shabbos afternoon:

Come hear one of our most popular speakers. His classes range from Medical Ethics to Dating and always inspire stimulating and thought-provoking conversation. Topic this week: "How To Choose a Marriage Partner." We encourage single and married folks to join us. Because you can always use these insights to help your friends!

The speaker is a physician with a counseling degree who now works for a pharmaceutical venture fund. He's quite opinionated, and definitely stimulated a lot of conversation.

Afterward I spoke with a longtime, very flirtatious male acquaintance. He's got a PhD in math or philosophy or physics, something difficult and esoteric. So he's extremely bright. But he told me something extremely troubling.

"When I'm open to a woman," he told me, "what makes me open to her is my physical attraction to her. Women need to respect and admire a man to feel that attraction toward him. But men don't need to feel that for a woman in order to open up to her emotionally. I know you'd like that kind of respect and admiration, but that's just not how men are."

Now on the one hand, I'm inclined to believe him. If a man with at least one, maybe two PhDs doesn't care about respecting and admiring his woman's intellect, then what man would?

Should I just not "list" my intelligence and accomplishments as selling points when I'm trying to attract a man's love? Should I not expect -- or even want -- the man in my life to appreciate me intellectually?

On the other hand, he's 51 and single. Maybe he's not the right person to ask about making an intimate relationship work.

Maybe I should call that venture-funding doctor and ask what he thinks.

Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Friday, June 22, 2007

Should I date a grandfather?

I'm usually not interested in men unless they have at least a college education, but I'm trying to be broadminded these days. And I'm stretching my age limits upward (although NOT downward).

I got a message today from a gent on a dating website:

Was just wondering if you would add one more year? SMILE I am [his age] (and young by the way with that youthful smile)

If you wish to, please feel to tell me a bit more about you and your little world in the big city. I can tell you more then what i sort of put together here on my short profile.

Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos and if the weather kepps up, we will have a great time in the city parks this weekend -- Moishy

Hm. His picture is password-protected, so I don't know if he really looks young. His grammar and usage aren't the best; his education is listed as "some university," which I know in many cases means "high school diploma" -- if you're lucky.

On the other hand, he sounds nice and friendly.

Hi Moishy -- Before I tell you more about myself, I really need to know where you live, where you daven, what you do for a living, how many kids you have, and how old they are. And I'd appreciate your photo password.

He wrote back:

Thank you for your kind reply, :-)

I live in the West 70's. Daven at LSS and also at times at Rabbi Forhand on 91 as they love my Nussach for Shacrit on Shabbos. And at times on 72nd at Rabbi Mintz.

I have 3 great grown kids (all boys) and one grand son, he is so cute! My boys are ages 24 - 22 and 18 I am in the High tech consutling business.

My photo password is [whatever] Wishing you all the best and thank you again for responding.

WHA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HAT???????????????? Three grown sons and a grandson?

[Oh, by the way: I checked out his photo, and he is NOT "young." Bald, paunchy, graybearded. He looks every year of his age and then some. I almost wonder if he's lying about his age.]

Three grown sons and a grandson!? I honestly don't know if I can handle that. I will have to get back to you.

I thought we'd leave it at that, but he wrote back:

Sure! not to worry at all. Just if you can tell me a bit more if you wish to, as that i have helped others before and i am a people person and matched up a few people who are Baruch hashem happy. So maybe i can try for you as well one day. Have a great Shabbos and enjoy

Now I'm torn. I think I already know that I cannot date him. I just can't. Even though he's a nice guy and he obviously makes a good living. (The West 70s are not a neighborhood for people who don't make bank.)

He looks old enough to be my father, and I do not find him at all attractive. I don't know if we're intellectually compatible, either... and three grown sons and a grandson?! I can barely envision being a stepmother -- being a step-grandmother is way too creepy.

But how can I take him up on his alleged offer to set me up with someone else? "I am not at all interested in you -- the men I'm interested in are much younger, thinner, and smarter than you. With better hair. Know any good ones?"
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Different timelines

Last night the Knight called. I told him that I couldn't see him any more unless he got his mother's blessing, because I couldn't put any more energy into something that was doomed from the start. He said he didn't think this was a waste of energy because he got to meet a very sweet person.

The very sweet person proceeded to rip him a new one. "That's wonderful for you, but at this stage of my life, I can't keep investing time and emotion into relationships that don't go anywhere! That's not fair to me!"

The Knight sent me an IM after I logged off. He's come to a decision. Apparently we're on different timelines at this point in our lives. He wishes me all the best.

He should have known that a month ago. And breaking up with someone via offline IM? That's worse than a post-it.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Why I love my classmates

So yesterday I was feeling kind of fat, as usual, and I thought I might as well donate all my skinny clothes to my internship's clothing pantry. I changed my mood on Facebook to "Fat" (illustrated with a photo of the fattest cat you have ever seen -- like a swollen sausage with fur).

One of my wonderful classmates sent me a message:

don't feel fat. don't.

I wrote back:

Thank you. It means a lot to hear that.

She responded:

anytime you skinny bitch.

I'm not even particularly close with her, I've never worked on a project or had coffee or done anything with her, but she reached out to support me. That was fabulous.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, June 18, 2007

What the $#@-% ?

So I got together with the Knight again last night. We had pizza, and I said we should talk about what happened last Thursday.

"Nothing to talk about," he said.

"Are you sure?" I asked. He was sure. He was just happy to be there with me.

So we got "together" again. And then he started drifting away. He said he wasn't sure he could see us working as a couple.

"Why not?" I asked.

"For one thing, because I don't know what your medical issue is," he said. "You know, whatever it is, you can tell me."

So I did. And he doesn't care. He doesn't think any differently of me, knowing that I have a mood disorder. Small comfort.

Then he said his parents might have a problem with our age difference. "I asked you about that when you first contacted me," I said.

He didn't really have an answer, and changed the subject. He's going to be very busy in the upcoming weeks; he won't be able to see me as often. He's facing a kind of spiritual career crisis: even though he's an engineer and just signed a lease in Brooklyn, he thinks he should become a rabbi and live in Israel. (For the record, I do not want to marry a rabbi, and I don't want to live in Israel unless Mashiach gets there first.)

We really should stop doing what we just did, given his uncertainty about our long-term chances. (This was something he could have told me before we fooled around -- I totally gave him an opening, over pizza, and he didn't take it.)

He loves me very much, and he knows that if we got married we'd be happy, but he still doesn't know if that would be the right thing to do.

Excuse me?

I spent all of today completely baffled. I don't know if we're even still dating. I know we're not dating exclusively, because he said he couldn't ask that of me. How the hell can he "love" me after only a month?! Do I even like him enough to be agonizing in all this confusion? Should I just cut my losses and have nothing more to do with him?

Most importantly, how did I end up here? When he contacted me, I was wary because of the age difference; he allayed my fears. I waited a whole month before getting physically involved with him; for me, that's a record of Olympic proportions. And yet I'm no closer to getting married than I was before I met him.

Before he left last night, he took my hand and asked me to promise we'd always be friends. "I can't promise you that," I told him. "I'm not friends with most of my ex-boyfriends."
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Knight update

Okay, so I liked the gift he got me. It was both appropriate considering the time we've been dating and showed a real understanding of the essential me: Connect 4 Stackers, a 3-D version of my absolute favorite game. We've played the original several times, so when he saw this version, he thought it would be a good birthday present.

In return, well...

(Spoiler alert: Do not read unless you want to know about Ayelet's intimate life.)

I know I said a lot about staying shomer negia indefinitely with the Knight. And I know a lot of you will be disappointed that we no longer are. But I also know that I really couldn't hold out any longer. And I'm proud of waiting a full month to do anything more than hold hands with or hug him -- longer than I've waited with any other boyfriend.

So... stuff happened. A lot of stuff. And I enjoyed it, and the Knight was in heaven. Absolutely ecstatic. I think I enjoyed his reaction more than what was actually happening to me, since much of what happened was new to him. I definitely liked his reaction to seeing me with my clothes off. I don't feel very beautiful these days -- except when I'm with him.

Remains to be seen whether we'll progress romantically as well as physically -- but my guess is, we will. He likes who I am, and I like getting to know him. (I just wish he could find a regular full-time job already....)
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Caffeine: Aphrodisiac or manic agent?

I've been extra sleepy lately. I figured it was because of the increased lithium. So I increased my coffee intake from 1 to 2-3 cups per day. And whereas I feel down and miserable when I'm so sleepy during the day, I feel a lot happier after ingesting more coffee.

A lot happier. So much happier, I started to worry. Was this a good mood or dangerous euphoria?

I worried even more when I was overtaken by lust this afternoon. I thought about dispensing with shmirat negia. Instead of having pizza with the Knight tonight, as we planned (to celebrate my birthday -- I'll let you all know if I like the present he got me), I thought about inviting him upstairs and having... well, him.

It felt like I was becoming hypomanic. But I knew that tomorrow morning I'd just be as exhausted and drained as I have been the past few days -- and I'd need a little extra coffee to get me going.

I did a few cursory Google searches but couldn't find anything authoritative, although most sites advise caffeine abstinence. But I honestly don't know how I'll stay awake without it.

I don't know if the extra lithium is helping or hurting me. But right now I'm cranky and on the verge of weepy. Caffeine is great; once you crash, it sucks.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Note to Dr. Octopussy: Look in the mirror

Just got another mass email from Dr. Dragon:

I encourage all of you to attend the conference that Dr Octopussy has put together. This is a very timely topic and she has put together a panel of internationally renowned speakers. The conference brochure is enclosed. Please register as soon as possible.

It's a conference about psychology's role in torture and terrorism. Dr. Octopussy is the chair, and her keynote address is entitled: "The Development of Psychological Torture: A Modern History of Coercive Interrogation and Its Effectiveness."

Of course she knows about torture and coercive interrogation. She's got tons of experience -- she's a pro!

I wanted so badly to send out a little email to this effect -- to all students and faculty at The Bad Place. It would have been easy; they're all listed in Dr. Dragon's "To" line. But I didn't.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, June 11, 2007

Just what I needed to hear

Apparently all the horrible things that happen to me and stress me out... all the mean people who treat me so horribly... are also destroying my memory.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

What I like about my new internship

1. It's in a neighborhood where I used to work, so I know all the local shopping and kosher food.

2. It's in a building with a kosher restaurant in the lobby. Extremely convenient.

3. I can wear open-toed shoes and sandals, which I couldn't do at my last internship (note to self: get a pedicure stat). Apparently it's a fairly casual atmosphere. The newest full-time hire, a social worker who just graduated from my school, has a dainty little nose ring. I actually really liked the nose ring, but I have bad allergies, so I don't think that's a good piercing to substitute for navel (which apparently takes forever to heal because of where it's situated and how much it gets rubbed by clothing). However, I still want to pierce something. Not lip, not eyebrow, not other holes in my ear/s. Nothing that shows when I'm clothed.

4. I have my own desk, phone extension, not-too-out-of-date computer, and email account -- as of my first day. Impressively efficient. (At my last internship I didn't have email access, let alone my own account; I didn't even always have a place to sit.)

5. The people, including my supervisor, seem pretty nice, although I'm still not wild about Dr. Newperson. There was a memorial service for a person I hadn't met, and she told me to go introduce myself to everyone. I would rather have walked over broken glass; unless I'm completely hypomanic, I can't work a room full of strangers by myself. She makes me feel like I don't really deserve to be there. I'm sure that's not her intention, but after that interview I just don't feel comfortable with her.

It was nice being back in the neighborhood; after I lost my job I had no reason to come here. The guys at my favorite lunch place remembered me, even though I hadn't been there in more than 15 months. On my lunch break I strolled through my favorite discount stores, beauty supply emporia, and cheap trendy clothing boutiques.

So far I haven't been all that busy, but my supervisor says two clients might need counseling tomorrow. I'm more resigned to working here, although I still think I would have gotten more out of either of the other two internships.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Restored and somewhat resigned

For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.

That's an Audrey Hepburn beauty tip, and while I find it whimsical, it's definitely not practical. I had lunch with Ruchama and her brood, and Tikva spent most of the time "doing" -- i.e., undoing -- my hair. (Up to that point it had been a pretty good hair day; I found a new mousse and an even better leave-in conditioner.) Tikva was fascinated with my stretchy headband, pulling it on and off my head, but at one point turned her attention to my body.

"Are those your big boobies?" she asked, pointing.

"Uh, yes." I never thought of them as particularly big....

"But people shouldn't touch them," she noted solemnly.

"Yes. People shouldn't touch them."

"Only when you take your shirt off."

"But I only take my shirt off when I'm at home alone," I told her. Close enough to the truth.

"Your mommy and daddy don't live with you?" she asked me.

"No, they live in their own house."

"Did they die?"

"No, of course not! They just live in their house, and I live in mine."

"Why don't you live with them?" she asked.

"Because I'm a grown-up, and grown-ups don't live with their Mommy and Daddy. They live by themselves, or with roommates, or with their husband or wife."

She digested this for a few moments, then changed the subject. "I wanna wear your watch."

As I took it off and clasped it -- very loosely -- around her tiny wrist, I felt totally at peace. Once the watch was secured she leaned into me, snuggling her head on my shoulder and pressing her forehead against my neck. Even now, writing about it, I feel happy.

Tikva is not afraid to show how much she loves me. Whether she's snagging a choice morsel from my plate -- "I want tomato" "More turkey" "Strawberry, strawberry" -- or taking me with her on a bathroom break, even though she no longer needs any help doing her business, I know she loves me and feels close to me.

If I were as incapable of self-reflection and arrogant as my accusers have drawn me, the children in my life wouldn't love me this unreservedly. And my fellow students and professors wouldn't like and respect me as much. I have to hold onto those feelings as I start the rest of my first-year internship, which I am more or less resigned to. Even though, for the money I'm paying, I should have more say in where I'm placed and what will meet my needs.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Friday, June 08, 2007

On my last nerve

I should know better than to go on a date when I'm in a terrible mood. The Knight came in from Brooklyn to have breakfast with me this morning, and I found him terribly annoying.

His jokes weren't funny. His quirks weren't endearing. He was just -- weird. I couldn't tolerate it. And yet -- he was so nice. I was being cranky and fussy, and he was very patient and easygoing. Even when I told him that I didn't want company, I wanted to be alone, and he needed to give me my space.

This has been a concern of mine, both in the past and with this relationship. I'm a very funny person, so if a guy tries to be funny and isn't, it annoys me. Also, I am still baffled by the Knight's strong regard for me, when I haven't really done all that much to earn it. It makes me wonder what is really driving him to be so attentive and affectionate.

In other words, it makes me wonder what's wrong with him.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Dean Evillene

I should have left blame well enough alone.

So my friend Katie told me I should try to talk to the dean of the school about the internship problems I've been having. The dean's confidential secretary told me I couldn't talk to the dean until I talked to the dean of the internship program, whom I will call Dean Evillene. I did that yesterday.

It was another emotional rape. Dean Evillene intimated that the problems at my first internship, the horrible interview at The Other Bad Place, not having a second-year internship, and my discomfort with Dr. Newperson were all my fault. She said that a number of students needed to be switched from their first placement, and I was the only one having such problems. She said that there was a bias incident at the first internship and they pulled me from it -- they'd done their job. I didn't have the right to have any say in my new internship.

She said The Other Bad Place appeared to be correct in their assessment that I did not self-reflect. I told her my professors didn't think that was true of me. "That's not self-reflection," she said, "that's a survey. You haven't shown me any ability to self-reflect." I told her the self-reflective things I said at The Other Bad Place to show her that I was capable of self-reflection. I don't know if she bought it.

I told her I didn't feel emotionally safe at Dr. Newperson's agency after the interrogation they laid on me. "What does that mean, 'emotionally safe'?" she asked.

Do you even have an MSW? What social worker doesn't understand "emotionally safe"? I tried to give her examples of questions that had made me uncomfortable, and she said they were legitimate questions that should not have made me uncomfortable. There was no empathy, no attempt to acknowledge the reality of my experience. Everything that happened, everything I perceived, was MY fault.

This runs contrary to every social work value I have been taught over the last 5 months.

Dean Evillene told me that The Other Bad Place and Dr. Newperson had every right to ask me why I'd been removed from my first internship -- by implication, that means the internship department didn't have to tell them that it wasn't my fault. She said that the questions Dr. Newperson asked me that made me so uncomfortable -- and that my fellow students thought were WAY inappropriate -- were perfectly legitimate.

I told her Dr. Newperson had asked me what I thought I would get out of internship there for such a brief time, and this made me feel that they wouldn't be able to provide an enriching learning experience for me -- that they didn't seem to know what to do with me.

Dean Evillene said that the internship department had determined what was best for my education -- working with Dr. Newperson. She said that even though two other first-year programs wanted me, I wasn't going to go there. "I'm sure there are lots of places that would like to have a social work student."

Not any social work student. ME! These places asked for me specifically, and they offer an experience that I would really find educational and enriching.

She also asked why, if I have a master's in psychology, I didn't apply for a psychology doctoral program. I told her that I am an older student and I wanted to get my degree quickly, and I also liked the social work emphasis on context and environment. "Okay, that's a good answer," she granted begrudgingly.

It was a horrible experience, and the only good thing about it was that I was able to keep my cool and not explode in rage or burst into tears. No matter how nasty she was or how inappropriate or unsympathetic her questions, I answered them calmly and rationally. Also, my fellow students have again come out in droves to support me. Honestly, without them I don't know what I'd do.

I realize that she was being defensive -- obviously she doesn't want her department to appear to be at fault for what I've endured, so she's trying to put it all on me. But I've spoken with enough students and faculty to know that it is their fault, not mine.

I'm not sure if I'll take this any further. Some students have urged me to write a letter to the dean of the school, expressing my pain and disillusionment. Others have recommended I just get through the rest of the first year. But I'm terrified of what will happen to my second year unless someone does something to the internship department.

Dr. Roda also thinks I should put up and shut up. Even though I might not get the best learning experience, even though I'm paying tons of money to be hurt and attacked, he thinks I should just get through it and get my degree -- that's the ultimate end goal. (It was a relief to hear that he doesn't think what's been happening is due to my bad judgment or my bipolar disorder. And he knows me better than The Other Bad Place or Dean Evelline. As do my professors and fellow students.)

So Monday morning I start working with Dr. Newperson. I'm not looking forward to it, but I'll act thrilled and enthusiastic. And I'll keep my head down and try not to make any waves.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The tension is getting to me

When I woke up at 3 a.m. this morning, as usual, I was in an unusual amount of pain. My shoulder muscles were so knotted that I couldn't turn my head from side to side.

I went for a Chinese tuina qigong massage, which helped tremendously. But I'm still stiff and sore. While the pain isn't as bad in my shoulders, it has generalized to the rest of my body, especially my back, my neck, my knees, and my thighs.

Going through these horrible interviews, at The Other Bad Place and with Dr. Newperson, and dealing with the uncertainty about this and next year's internships, is taking its toll on me -- not just emotionally but physically. I can't concentrate or study. I'm in significant physical pain. And only the summer sunshine and support from friends and family are keeping me from descending into another depression.

And soon I'll be another year older. Happy birthday, Ayelet. I had hoped 2007 would be better than 2006. So far, it's not looking good.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

How to defy my age and accept my body just as it is

I'm thinking about getting my navel pierced.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, June 04, 2007

Ayelet the sex therapist

So I made the mistake of telling somebody that I was taking Human Sexuality this summer. And that person told a friend, and that friend decided that since 1) I have a degree in psychology and 2) I am officially studying sex, she could ask me a question about a very intimate matter. Something to do with her husband, to whom she's been married for about two years.

I was hesitant. I'm still not a licensed therapist, and while I know a fair amount about sex, through reading and experience, I wasn't sure I would be able to help her. But I told somebody that her friend could call me and I'd do my best.

"Hi, um, is this, um, Ayelet?" Shy, halting, very quiet breathy voice. Kind of like Marilyn Monroe via Bais Yaakov.

"Yes, is this somebody's friend with the question?"

"Oh wow, how'd you know?"

"Lucky guess," I said.

"So, like, it's about my husband. He told me something, and I don't know what to make of it."

Uh-oh. Please don't let it be something really perverted.

"What did he say?" I asked calmly. Trying to sound like people always call me with bizarre sex questions, and I have all the answers.

"He likes to look at women's feet." She coughed delicately. "It makes him... he... he really likes it."

Hallelujah! As fetishes go, feet are pretty innocuous.

"There's really only one thing you need to do," I told her. "Get a pedicure with red nail polish. Maybe some cute strappy stiletto sandals. And then... well, you'll probably get anything you want from him."

"So he's not... sick?" she asked anxiously.

"No. Foot fetishes are no big deal psychologically."

"Why do men get all excited about smelly feet?" she asked.

"Men are very visual," I said, "and sometimes they form associations between what they see and the excitement they're feeling. Then seeing that again gets them excited again."

"Interesting," she said. But she got the pedicure, and later left me a voicemail saying that it was as if she'd given him a bottle of Viagra.

Another small score for therapist Ayelet.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

You don't actually have to like your Facebook friends

Still haven't heard from Eleanor, the internship director, and part of me is relieved. I do not want that internship. But I'm on pins and needles not knowing where I'll be for the rest of this year and the whole of next year. Makes concentrating on boring articles... virtually impossible.

Another great way of not studying is surfing Facebook, which I joined at the behest of my classmates and have rapidly developed an addiction to. I love posting articles or videos, writing on people's walls, and updating my status.

Today I decided to bulk up my friends list. I'd avoided adding several acquaintances because I don't really like them all that much. Calling them friends seemed hypocritical.

Then I decided that was silly. Facebook is a social networking site. I don't like a bunch of these guys -- but I might like their friends. Why not get something out of the acquaintanceship and meet a bunch of new people? In record time I added a few people I don't care for, several I hardly know, one guy I dated, and one guy I was in love with, although we never actually said it. And almost all of them accepted me as a "friend."

The people I haven't sought to add are the students I used to call my classmates at The Bad Place. I know Yasmina's on there -- back when we were speaking, she couldn't believe I wasn't. I've seen a few others on my friends' friends lists. So I know they get occasional updates about me, since they see when I interact with our mutual friends. But I really don't consider those cowards my friends, and I don't think I could get anything out of naming them as such.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, June 03, 2007

What can a student do to avoid studying?

I was not in the mood to read today. I'm apprehensive about confronting (nicely) the internship office and turning down the internship I interviewed for on Friday. Every time I sat down to focus on another boring article or textbook, I couldn't concentrate. So I tried to use my time productively in other ways:

I blogged. Also read and commented on friends' blogs.

I made a comprehensive list of summer semester assignments and due dates, which now hangs above my computer monitor where I can't miss it.

I exchanged emails with my Human Sexuality professor about my term paper topic. (That's going to be some interesting research.)

I cleaned the bathroom. (You know I'm trying hard to avoid studying when I get up and clean.)

I had surprisingly pleasant conversations with my mother and Jerusha, who was playing with Oedipus in the backyard while Shira and Malka had softball games, coached by my brother-in-law.

I shopped online, putting items in shopping carts but not actually buying anything.

I traded emails with Malka about who loves whom more (recently she's gotten into the whole "can you raed tihs" phenomenon):

Dear Aunt Ayelet,
(This will be one of the weird emails)
I lvoe you!
I hpoe you lvoe me too!!!

Daer Mklaa,
I lvoe you soooooooooooooooooooooooo mcuh! Of crosue I lvoe you! I lveod you form the fsrit mnoemt I kenw you wree ginog to be bron!
Lvoe, Anut Aeleyt

I updated my collection of wedding powerpoints. When I get engaged, I'll send my sisters and closest cousins a powerpoint with six bridesmaid dress options. I'll send bridesmaids who have daughters the flowergirl powerpoint, with eight options. I'll send my fashion-savvy friends the wedding dress, wedding shoes, veil, headpiece, and hairstyle powerpoints so they can advise me on what to buy and how to wear it. I'll send the ring powerpoint to my good friend on 47th St., so he can tell my fiancé what to get me (and give him a good price, of course). And I'll send the invitation powerpoint, with three lovely and inexpensive choices, to my fiancé, my parents, and his parents. Practically speaking, I'll just need to book a hall, hire a band, and choose a menu.

I searched, unsuccessfully, for my good tweezers. I have no idea where they've gotten to, and it was annoying to use my crappy tweezers.

And I went out to dinner with the Arabian Knight. It was our first real dinner date; we've only gotten together for more casual daytime activities -- bagels, rowing in Central Park, a movie. He's usually busy at night, so I appreciated having the day to myself and the evening with him.

I was excited and apprehensive -- he had seemed to cool off lately, a little, but I'd essentially told him to, so I couldn't assume he was losing interest. We went to La Creperie, where I had a disastrous final date with G.I. Josh nearly two years ago. Alona, Adir, and Batya joined us for Sunday brunch, and when I picked up the check to try to figure out who owed what, G.I. Josh sniped, "Oh, she's not just a psychologist, now she thinks she's an accountant." Nice. From passive-aggressive to openly aggressive. We broke up that night.

But: I like crepes, and it's a lovely but not too expensive kosher restaurant within walking distance of my apartment. I can't go to Darna for every date. Besides, I wanted to wash the last vestige of G.I. Josh out of my hair, since I was so successful at getting rid of Little Marty. So I put on my four-inch platform Steve Madden slides -- like these, but with a narrower strap and taller. I love them because they're the least boring of the comfortable shoes that I now must limit myself to wearing. When I was young and healthy, I wore funky, strappy stilettos; now I can't abide the blisters or the strain on my knees and lower back. I'm a crone.

Off we went. It was drizzling, and then raining. We walked close together underneath his umbrella, which isn't quite big or strong enough to cover us completely. Because we've limited our physical contact, just walking close to him was disproportionately exciting, especially since I'd spent a big part of Shabbat fantasizing about him.

We entered the restaurant and were seated directly behind... my ex-boyfriend Yishai and his child bride. Her back was to us, so I gave him a little wave and then sat with my back to them.

"Guess who's behind us?" I asked the Knight. He was surprised. "You shouldn't be surprised," I said. "I shouldn't be surprised. I've been living and dating in NYC for so long, I can't enter a kosher restaurant without seeing at least one guy I've dated."

"Look at it this way," he said, "at least your date is prettier than his." ZING! Not nice -- not nice at all -- but hilarious and, quite frankly, true. She may be 10 years my junior, but I'm much cuter.

We had a delicious dinner and a sublime dessert -- crepes smothered in blueberries, strawberries, dulce de leche, and a generous dollop of whipped cream. "If we get married," I said, "we have to come back here and order this again so we can feed it to each other." He laughed and held out his fork, piled with berries, cream, and caramel. "No," I said primly. "Not until we're married."

As he walked me home the rain fell ever harder, and I started slipping in my slides. Close to my apartment the street slopes downward, and eventually I couldn't walk at all; the instep straps were practically around my ankles.

"Do you want me to carry you?" he asked.

"You can't carry me the rest of the way to my place!" I said.

"Let me help you," he said, putting his arm around my shoulders.

"That's just pushing me further out of my shoes!" I said.

"Okay, okay -- hold onto my arm," he said, crooking it nicely. Initially that helped, but ultimately I had to take off the shoes and walk barefoot. "New fun date activity," I said, "stepping on broken glass and going to the emergency room." Fortunately the rain had washed away any broken glass and other offal.

And holding his arm, I was able to smell him. Not cologne, and not, chas v'shalom, body odor. (Something that I, alas, actually have smelled on more than one date.) Just a nice, fresh, distinctive masculine aroma. Beat author Tom Robbins says that scent is 80% of love; I wouldn't put it that high, but I'm very responsive to the "strong clean smell of a man," as Anne Rice once put it.

"How about some Connect 4?" the Knight asked me at the door. "I'm not going to see you for a whole week." He's got a job interview, and his students have finals; he'll be too busy to shlep in to Manhattan from Brooklyn. Which is why we didn't celebrate my birthday today -- it falls sometime during the coming week, but I didn't want to acknowledge it any earlier than I had to.

"No." As much because of what I might do as what he might do.

"Just Connect 4? I promise," he pleaded.

"NO. But you can kiss me on the forehead," I said magnanimously.

"It's going to be a whole week. Let me hug you."

"No, you're all wet on one side and I'm all wet on the other," I said.

"So it cancels out. Please let me hug you," he said.

"FINE," I said. He kissed me on the forehead and then pulled me close. I felt... safe and cherished. Does that sound corny? It was much more of an emotional than a sensual experience.

I really feel that the Knight not only gets me but accepts me unconditionally and is not put off by -- even enjoys -- my meshugas. And that's a lot of meshugas to tolerate; I am definitely a piece of work. He's also no pushover; it's not like he accepts everything I do. When he disagrees with something I say or suggest, he lets me know, politely but firmly.

I think I'm starting to really like him. Which is wonderful, and scary, and confusing, and beautiful.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Okay, so most social workers are nicer than psychologists

One of my professors from last semester, who has been incredibly supportive during the whole internship ordeal, emailed me this morning to ask how things were going. I told her about Friday's interrogation, and she responded:

Discouraging. Tell the internship office you had a good experience with me as a professor, you hear I am taking first year students next year, and you wonder if I could be approached about your coming to me for a first year placement. I’ll tell Carly to tell you I have mentioned that I am taking first year students next year. If it came from me directly to them or even from me to you to them it will be seen as manipulation. Know that our agency is not doing therapy, much of our work is done on home visits. Your work would involve supporting parents and working as a coach with kids and youth. Not the kind of talk therapy I suspect you are interested in but it will ground you in the concrete and supportive clinical interventions that make up most of clinical work.

How awesome would that be? This professor is incredibly cool; she uses hypnosis, among other interesting techniques, and I learned so much from her. I am definitely going to take her advice. I really had a bad feeling about the agency where I interviewed -- I'll tell the internship office I don't want to go to a place where I'll always be scrutinized and second-guessed. And third-guessed. And fourth-guessed. And... you get the idea.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Washed out of my hair

Funny thing happened. During yesterday's long summer Shabbat afternoon, while I was lying at home pretending to read one of my textbooks, I started thinking about sex. Not with Little Marty -- with the Arabian Knight.

That was surprising to me, so I actually tried to imagine being intimate with LM. And I couldn't. In my mind, when he approached, I pushed him away. And I was craving the Knight. (It helped that in fantasy he did exactly everything I like; I have no idea how he'd be in reality.) I'm not sure when the switch occurred, but apparently LM is out of my dreams and out of my hair, and the Knight is in.

The Knight has been pretty busy lately -- signing a lease for his new apartment, teaching, tutoring, etc. He hasn't had as much time to IM or call me, and we haven't seen each other since before Shavuot, so maybe his absence is making my heart (and other parts) grow fonder. I did tell him I felt a little scared at how intense things were getting, so he might have backed off strategically.

Of late the Knight has also been very supportive, especially after the latest unpleasant interview. And I find myself liking him a lot more. He's really patient and kind when I'm in a bad mood, and these days that's where I've been.

I'm so happy I no longer want Little Marty. At all. And I'm glad I feel closer to the Knight. But it's probably going to make shmirat negiah a whole lot more difficult.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Another interrogation

The best thing I can say about yesterday's interview is that after the emotional gang-rape at The Other Bad Place, I was a little more prepared for the host of inappropriate questions they fired at me, centering around whether my actions were the reason for my removal from my first internship.

Honestly, I found Dr. Newperson and her colleague's behavior offensive -- almost as bad as Ms. Torquemada's. I told them I wasn't supposed to discuss what happened to me at the shelter, and they forced the issue. Then they asked what I expected to accomplish at their agency, since I would only be there for two months.

Um, it's your agency. Aren't you supposed to direct my learning experience? If you don't want a new student now, why did you agree to meet with me?

I went into this interview with positive intentions. But I never in a million years would have anticipated that they would expect me to justify my very presence at their facility. I'm a student. I'm supposed to be entitled to an internship. My last one blew up in my face, through no fault of my own, and now I'm supposed to beg Dr. Newperson to have mercy and take me? I didn't know I had to defend my right to get the education that I'm paying a lot of money for!

There followed approximately 45 minutes of cross-examination. Everything I said was picked apart and used against me. I honestly don't feel like going through everything I said and they subsequently twisted, but it was very upsetting. And I don't even know if I want to work with these people. I don't approve of the way they put me on the spot, and I shouldn't have to beg to get what all of my classmates are presumably entitled to.

Dr. Newperson is going to call the internship director on Monday, and I'm actually kind of hoping she doesn't want me. Katie told me that her internship agency always needs free labor; so did Jerry. I'm going to stand up to the internship director and tell her that I want to go to a place where I'll be wanted and accepted, not tortured and eviscerated.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Friday, June 01, 2007

Another freak

I'm so nervous about my latest interview, which is at 4 p.m. this afternoon, I can't sit still, concentrate, or read the 1,500 pages I need to cover before next Wednesday.

But I can blog....

One dating website has forums where people discuss vital topics like "The Issue of Age" and "Photos -- Yes or No?"

I could not believe what a guy posted recently in "Height Criteria":

short women need to dress more maturely so guys don't confuse them with teenagers. tall women do just fine as long as they are especially careful to keep themselves slim. short guys can easily make up for it by developing a great personality, and tall guys... well they have it made as long as they don't act like jerks.

What makes this guy think he has the right to tell short women and tall women exactly how they MUST look and dress???? (Easy to understand, however, how he's 42 and never-married.)

I had to respond:

"tall guys... well they have it made as long as they don't act like jerks"

Like by, oh, saying that "tall women do just fine as long as they are especially careful to keep themselves slim" ?

In other words, "Want some water to wash that foot down?"
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

The bipolar diet

Not in the mood to study... so here's a page from my bipolar diet, which I am hoping will help me drop at least a little of the 25 pounds I gained during my last anxious depression:

7 a.m. Coffee with LOTS of skim milk, lithium, multivitamin, ibuprofen for muscle cramps from carrying too many heavy textbooks

8 a.m. Bowl of high-protein, high-fiber, low-taste cereal with skim milk

11 a.m. Energy bar

3 p.m. A few ounces of pretzels or another energy bar

4:30 p.m. "Dinner" with a friend at a non-kosher sub shop: 16 ounces ruby-red grapefruit juice (which you can now drink since you're off Seroquel), 16 ounces Blueberry B Monster juice by Odwalla

6 p.m. 2 pounds of cherries (only $1.99/pound!!!)

7:30 p.m. Bowl of high-protein whole-wheat pasta with marinara sauce

10 p.m. Lithium, Remeron, Cymbalta, calcium-magnesium to help you sleep

11 p.m. Toast with margarine (because suddenly you need something salty RIGHT NOW)

The Arabian Knight likes me at this weight, but I really don't. Wish me luck!
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"