Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Ayelet kicks a candy craving

I went out for lunch with Simcha today -- we grabbed some kosher takeout from the sandwich stand and went to a park to eat. I was tempted by the cookies and donuts on display, but limited myself to a big salad, with plenty of chickpeas to give me a nice, low-glycemic carb fix.

But I still wanted chocolate, or something else very sweet. And I happened to have candy at my desk; I'm going to a Shabbos lunch this weekend, someone's 30th birthday, and I thought bringing candy would be more appropriate than a bottle of wine. Keep him in touch with his inner child.

So in the file cabinet above my desk were a big bag of Twizzlers and two boxes of Mike & Ike (original and the new Tangy Twister, so delicious that Amazon considers them a gourmet food)... and ay! they were calling me.

It would have been so easy to rip it open and inhale half of them. But I didn't. I went to get another glass of water, my fifth or sixth of the day. And the craving passed. Of course, I came home and immediately inhaled four peaches, but that's a healthy, acceptable alternative. As my friend Maven likes to quote her Weight Watchers group leader, "Nothing tastes as good as being in control feels."
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Why Ayelet has been so cranky lately

I can't take living without sex.

For years, despite my religion's prohibition of premarital sex, I had a series of friends with benefits or -- more perilously, during my more manic or depressed moments -- met up with strangers from telephone chat lines. Amazingly, I never got raped, killed, or infected with a sexually transmitted disease. But I'm trying to be chaste these days, and that is exacting a toll.

Some days are worse than others. But to those dear readers who ask why I've been so down lately, I say: it's quite simple. My life is a series of mishaps, betrayals, and frustrations. I get no comfort at the end of a long day, and I have no expectation of comfort anytime in the near future. It's killing me.

Literally. Stress kills. My blood pressure is up, and so is my cholesterol. That could be a factor of the weight I've failed to lose, but stress is definitely a contributor. My knees are too painful to allow much exercise. I no longer eat an entire Entenmann's cake in two days. Aside from sex, I have no way to discharge this ever-increasing allostatic load.

I am going to die sooner if I don't have sex soon.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, July 30, 2007

A surprisingly decent weekend

I always have fun with the kids, and Jerusha was amazingly civil. She and I went for a walk Shabbos morning with the dog and had a pleasant conversation. Later, the kids and I played "American Idol." We made up accents and personae and "auditioned" for each other. It was hilarious; I think I had more fun than they did.

My niece's birthday party on Sunday was tons of fun. They got in about an hour of splashing in kiddie pools and creating enormous bubbles before the thunder hit; then we herded them inside, changed them from bathing suits to clothing, fed them pizza, and watched them do craft projects. Fortunately, several parents had stuck around to help us manage the hungry hordes.

Sometimes it's really hard hanging out with all those married people. Most of them had the good grace not to complain about their relative good fortune -- relative to mine. But several of them have new babies, all of them have houses and spouses and kids.... Even a good day in the suburbs is rife with unpleasant reminders that my life has stagnated while everyone else's has progressed.

I'm trying not to feel bitter, but it's difficult.

Even worse, Oedipus is so over me. He's decided to marry Mommy, after all. No big surprise. Why should he want to marry me? Nobody else does.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Another honorary niece -- hooray!

I'm delighted to announce that Bina and Asher are the proud parents of a little girl. Less than a year after their marriage. Apparently she's quite assertive, with tons of personality, and can't wait to meet her Aunt Ayelet, whom she so strikingly resembles.

Last summer, Bina was newly engaged. The summer before, she was living in a basement apartment and hadn't even met Asher. (Actually, she had and hadn't been interested in him. She changed her mind later.)

Now she's a married, maternal homeowner. I guess your life can turn around fairly quickly, if Gd decides to favor you with luck. What tips His hand in your favor, I've no idea.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Out of options

I've clearly dated every eligible man who's willing to go out with me. Today I heard from someone whose memory I almost completely repressed.

Someone wrote to me on one of the dating websites I lurk on:

hi there.
hope your fast is going well.

why no pic?

Normally I respond a bit tartly to men who don't really say much before asking to see my picture, but it's a fast day, and I'm also trying to be a bit less shrewish online.

As well as fasts can go ;) B"H it's almost over.

I do have a pic. But I only show it to guys I'm interested in. I found that when I left my pic showing, I got a lot of unwanted visitors and messages. Hiding it has cut down somewhat (though not completely).

since you're curious: my password is xxxxx

what did you like about my pictureless profile?

He responded with a few quotes from my profile. Praised my smile. Ended with:

I wrote you because you sounded interesting. You should know that I generally DO NOT write people who have no pics. Nevertheless, I see your point, as girl, not willing to get unwanted advances, etc.

You seem to be a kindhearted person (unlike some people on this site) , so I figured I would write.

Who knows what may occur? Do U live on the UWS?

I wrote back to tell him that I do, and added:

You're right, I am a very kind person, but I try to disguise that behind a mirage of biting humor ;) Kudos to you for seeing the real me! (I probably am the most interesting chick on this site...)

You can reach me at (email) or (phone number).

What the heck, I thought -- why waste time being coy?

Ayelet, I knew you looked familiar.

Moshe Lichtenstein set us up a few years back, if you recall.

I don't know why it never proceeded from that 1 time we met.

Anyways, if you would still like to speak, let me know.
If not, I understand as well.

Huh? The only guy Moshe L. set me up with... stood me up by email. No. This could NOT be that same pathetic guy.

I must be getting old.

We went on a date?

Please, please, PLEASE don't let it be that guy!

we went one 1 coffee date in the winter time.
I then walked with you bck to your apt. bldg and we said our goodbyes.
That was it.

Does this/ do I ring a bell?

It's that guy. Gd threw me another bait-and-switch. I thought he was an eligible interested guy, but he's just another loser. Crap.

I remember that we made another date, for dinner at an Indian restaurant, and you decided to blow me off by email.

No response.

If I still had that cowardly email, I'd append it here. The guy smarmily wrote, less than two hours after making dinner plans with me, that he had reconsidered, and I should please "respect his decision." Like I'm going to chase after someone not worth catching! After I already took time out of my busy day (I was getting my first master's) to shower and get all dolled up for him, I'm going to waste more of my precious time convincing him I'm worthy of being dated?

And now he disingenuously makes like things just "never happened" for us? Men are such craven creatures. It's a wonder our species isn't extinct.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Ellis has left the building

I am sad to report that my former therapist, the groundbreaking, revolutionary, and legendary Albert Ellis, has passed away at the age of 93. Working until the very end, even with diabetes and without a colon.

I thought he was too ornery to die, and had hoped he'd live long enough to write a foreword for my first book. No such luck. But I'll always be grateful for the time I had with him, and for the incredible movement he (co-)founded.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, July 23, 2007

Disconnected

Since my seizure, I have a get out of fasting free card. The only day I fast is Yom Kippur, and on that day I don't leave the house; I conserve my energy. Since I have to work tomorrow, and since I'm running a slight fever, I'm eating and drinking.

I wonder if it's because I'm not fasting that I feel so disconnected from Tisha b'Av. I know I should be cognizant of the greater tragedies that have befallen the Jews -- destruction of both Temples, millennia of persecution, Muslim terrorists (heck, most Muslim governments) -- but I'm not. I'm sort of stuck on my own tsuris. I'm tired of being rejected by men I find attractive and being pursued by men I find repulsive.

Last week the average age of a visitor to my dating website page was 57. I'm in my 30s! What chutzpah in these men -- none of whom are millionaires or movie stars -- thinking a girl young enough to be their daughter would want to sleep with them.

Yet they're the only ones willing to give me the time of day. I'm feeling increasingly hopeless about my situation. If two rounds of prayer at the Kotel, participating in a weekly tehillim group, observing most of the mitzvot to the best of my ability, and generally trying to be a good and giving person aren't reason for me to merit finding my husband, what exactly do I have to do? Marry a man old enough to be my father? The thought nauseates me.

And it's a real obstacle to faith and enthusiastic practice. Traditional Judaism isn't meant for older singles. It's a lonely half-existence. And it's increasingly difficult to stay optimistic, and not succumb to bitterness.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Friday, July 20, 2007

Jewish men. Feh.

The training course was held in the South Bronx, a neighborhood I've never actually set foot in. It's moderately blighted. I was a little uncomfortable walking from the subway station to the agency, both because I'd never been there before and was afraid I'd get lost and because it felt like a dangerous area.

However, as I walked I felt safer and safer, because I looked like everyone else there. I look Latina -- big dark hair, big hips. And several gentlemen expressed their appreciation:

"Hey, beautiful!"
"How you doin', sweetheart?"

I didn't respond, and they didn't pursue; it was up to me to engage with or ignore them. And I wasn't offended or scared -- I found it incredibly flattering.

Jewish men don't tell me I'm beautiful nearly often enough. In contrast, African American and Latino men tell me I'm beautiful all the time. Every time I'm in an "ethnic" area, I get tons of unsolicited, politely proffered compliments. I don't get that on the Upper West Side. I get men who scan the crowd while I'm trying to talk to them.

I'm not usually a Shmuely Boteach fan, but in this article I think he makes a few good points.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Hi, I'm a social work student = Please tell me all your problems

I went to a training session for people who work with domestic violence offenders. Very diverse crowd, folks with all kinds of degrees and experience, working at all kinds of agencies: faith-based, city-funded, secular not-for-profit, etc. We went around the room talking about who were were and where we were affiliated. I told everyone I have a master's in psychology and am now earning my MSW.

For some reason, I spent the entire lunch break counseling other attendees. A nice guy and devoted father whose 14-year-old daughter can only rebel against his overly strict boundaries by eating, and now weighs 280 pounds. A divorced minister working with abusive parents whose own sons aren't always the best fathers.

Always giving them the caveat that I don't know their kids and I haven't seen the family interacting, I was able to give them a different perspective on the dynamics involved. I knew what questions to ask, and how to reframe what they saw as the truth. And I had some people and places they could contact for help.

It wasn't an out-of-body experience, but at one point I felt like I was listening to myself deliver the right insights in response to their questions and information. I was impressed with myself, and also a little scared. What gives me the right to position myself as an expert? As soon as I do that, I've painted myself into a corner!

But I don't think I did any harm, and like I said, I really felt like I was saying the right things and asking the right questions. More importantly, I was able to refer them to agencies and people who can really help them.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, July 19, 2007

What a difference a lawyer makes

My brother-in-law finally got around to writing that letter to the VP of Academic Affairs at the university of which The Bad Place is a part. And it was worth the wait.

Dear Dr. Bureaucrat:

I am writing on behalf of Ayelet Survivor, who was enrolled in your university's Bad Place in the Fall of 2006.

Miss Survivor enrolled in The Bad Place in September, 2006 and was effectively dismissed in December, 2006. Miss Survivor was treated poorly by various Bad Place faculty members during her brief enrollment there. In brief, and without belaboring the various details, in Miss Survivor's view the Bad Place faculty acted rudely and inconsiderately, did not account for Miss Survivor's disability, and made inaccurate statements about her behavior and state of mind. No doubt your faculty have differing views on the matter, and I am not writing to reopen any debate on the merits of this unfortunate episode. Miss Survivor has now moved on to another program, is doing very well, and would like to put this experience behind her.

To that end, I am writing to ask you to confirm that your university and The Bad Place will keep Miss Survivor's records sealed until they are disposed of in accordance with your Records Retention Policy, will keep such records confidential, and will not disclose them to any third parties without Miss Survivor's explicit written permission. This includes any and all emails and other communications Bad Place faculty members had with one another regarding Miss Survivor as well as with Miss Survivor herself. As I'm sure you can appreciate, the release of any such records to third parties, which we contend contain inaccurate allegations and assessments about Miss Survivor, would likely cause damage to Miss Survivor and her reputation. Similarly, we seek confirmation that the Bad Place faculty will not discuss Miss Survivor or their inaccurate views on her with third parties.

In addition, given the nature of the dispute between Miss Survivor and The Bad Place, we believe it would be appropriate for The Bad Place to provide a partial refund of the tuition paid by Miss Survivor, in exchange for which Miss Survivor would release The Bad Place from any liability associated with her treatment there.

I would appreciate the courtesy of your reply at your earliest convenience.

I knew there was a reason Jerusha married him. I must have left 20 messages for Dr. Bureaucrat, and he never once tried to return my call. Nothing gets done in this country without a noisy protest, and lawyers are better than anyone at making a threat sound perfectly reasonable.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Drained

So I gave blood last night, as part of an annual drive in memory of a West Sider who died very young and very abruptly. I went out with him once, so I thought that this year, the least I could do would be to donate.

Waiting in line to enter the blood bus, I noticed a local politician making her way down the row of chairs where I was seated. Ironically, I was reading about power (for my Advocacy class) and how to ingratiate yourself with powerful people.

I didn't do such a great job. She had a photographer snapping pictures of her shaking hands with people waiting to give blood. Without permission. That is a big no-no, as I knew from working on many newsletters and marketing projects. You always ask people before taking their photo. So I put my hand up to block my face as she got near me -- I'm not happy with the way I look these days, I don't like having my picture taken, and nobody asked me!

Despite my hand trying to ward her off, the photographer continued to snap photos. When the politician got to me, I said -- more shrilly than I intended -- "I don't like having my picture taken."

"Okay," said the politician, and moved on. Hey -- just because I don't like having my photo taken without permission doesn't mean I don't vote!!!

It really bothered me. I knew the organizer of the event, and she came into my blood bus while I was being drained. I told her I was really uncomfortable having someone take my picture without permission, and she apologized; she hadn't invited the politician, the New York Blood Center had.

I decided I would contact the politician and NY Blood Center, but not until my anger had attenuated. I thought it would be a useful exercise to write a really furious letter and then edit it down to something acceptable:

Dear Pushy Politician,

I am the woman who didn't want to be photographed at last night's blood drive. I am writing to let you know that I found your behavior and that of your staff both rude and unprofessional.

I didn't go to the blood drive to make you look like you care about blood donation; I went because I have type O negative blood and it's needed. However, had I known I'd be subjected to your paparazza, I would not have gone, and knowing there's a danger of being photographed without my consent by such as you has definitely dissuaded me from taking part in such public blood drives again.

Taking photographs without asking permission is both illegal and an invasion of privacy. When I told you I didn't like being photographed, you walked past and ignored me. You should have stopped to ask why I was uncomfortable with your behavior and apologized to me. That is what an elected official who actually cares about her constituents would have done.

I look forward to voting for the next person who runs against you.

Okay, maybe that's a little excessive. I'll tone it down. Won't be as much fun, but in the power game you can't go with your feelings -- you have to go with what's going to be effective.

After the blood drive I went to a picnic celebrating the anniversary of the release of Catcher in the Rye. It was organized by The Atheist, a guy I dated twice before he went from being very frum to very not. I was never sure if he said no thanks because he didn't find me attractive or becuase he knew he was on the verge of abandoning Jewish practice. Could be either or both.

Anyway, it was fun. We hung out, noshed, read passages from the book, and shmoozed. But after a point I started watching my own behavior and wondering how others were perceiving me. Was I a fount of wisdom or a pushy, pontificating, obnoxious know-it-all?

I know they thought I was funny -- they laughed, hard, at almost all of my jokes -- but was I working too hard to try to prove that I'm also brilliant? And did that obvious effort render my attempt futile? This is something I need to examine when I'm in small groups of people. I don't want to be the insecure, needy person who sucks all the oxygen out of the room by always demanding the spotlight.

Holden Caulfield wouldn't want me to develop my diplomatic, conciliatory side -- he'd want me to be 100% open and blunt with people I don't respect. But Holden's not exactly a role model for how to get through life. Someone at the picnic asked, "Where is Holden today?" and I said, "He's still locked up. He lacks insight."
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Tears of a clown

Shecky Green suffers from clinical depression. Amazing how many funny people are so sad.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, July 15, 2007

What would I do without YouTube?

And DailyMotion, and veoh, and bolt, and metacafe, and all my online video sites? DSL is not only cheaper than cable -- it affords me access to whatever I'm in the mood to hear.

I will never get tired of Westlife, Weird Al, Donny Osmond (how is a 50something man still so damn sex-ay???), or any of the 200 other videos I've favorited. And I love searching for new product when I think of something I'd like to listen to.

That's important, because I often get tired of my knee injury, the "men" (guys, according to Dave Barry's definition) I date, being single, the internship department, my sister, my parents, my sinuses, the NYC heat, my tiny apartment (can't afford a larger, especially since this one's rent-stabilized). Music is therapeutic -- it soothes and releases negative emotions at a preverbal level. It's important to have abundant music in my life. I need comfort, and after losing 8 pounds on the fruit and fiber diet, I'm trying really hard not to eat too much comfort.

Of course, being that it's the Nine Days, I shouldn't really be listening to music, but at least it's not live.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Friday, July 13, 2007

Adir voices his opinion

"You'd be better off marrying G.I. Josh than Hude."

Alona married him, so we know he's pretty smart. Hopefully I'll share his attitude soon.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

I wanna get laid

There's no other way of putting it. I want a strong man to throw me down and nail me hard. For hours. I've got instruments and plenty of batteries at home, but that won't help. I don't need an orgasm; I need naked, full-body contact. And I don't want tender, intimate cuddling. I want rough, raw sex. I want to be manhandled -- literally. It feels like years since I've gotten any, and it's only been a month or so. (Although since the Knight didn't know what he was doing, it certainly wasn't a very satisfying encounter.)

The power of this feeling could be the partial result of a client cancelling her appointment -- again -- so that I have very little to do today. But boredom cannot fully account for the physical, sexual alert gripping me head to toe. Right now the overwhelming injustice and agony of being single is achingly acute. I feel desperate, especially since I can't just go to a bar or call a phone line and meet up with a stranger to get my rocks off. I literally do not know if I will ever have sex again. It makes me want to scream and throw things and destroy property.

Times like this I almost hate Gd. If I'm going to be single, why torture me with these hideously strong passions? I can't take it. I can't.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Power

My Advocacy professor, Dr. Gentle, is a brilliant and original thinker, as well as an inherently kind person. I like and respect him both for his intellect and his respectful manner with his students. One of my classmates said that the hallmark of a good graduate school professor is one that makes you think in a totally different way about issues you've already considered, and Dr. Gentle definitely qualifies.

Dr. Gentle and I have had several good conversations, and I've learned a lot from him. He debriefed me after my meeting with Dean Evillene, advising me to seek my own internship next year and not approach the dean of the school with my quandary; it just wouldn't get me anywhere. When I told him some of the things she said to me, he said, "Well, you know what she's really saying: 'If you mess with us, we will mess with you.'"

"Isn't that an abuse of her power?" I asked him.

"After this is all over," he said, "you might want to write a reflection paper on the nature of power." I thought, "I'll just blog about it."

Yesterday Dr. Gentle walked us through a power analysis. You conduct a power analysis as part of your strategic approach to a "target" -- the person or institution you'll be dealing with to advocate for something. He asked whom we wanted to analyze, and I said, "Dean Evillene!"

No one in class was particularly surprised. But Dr. Gentle went along gamely. He told us the kind of questions we needed to ask -- where did she get her education (someone in class with a laptop looked at her profile on the school website: Fordham BA, Hunter MSW, CUNY grad center DSW), what kind of work has she done (research and direct practice on child welfare and battered women), what institutions is she affiliated with, where did she grow up, what kind of books and movies does she like, what about her personal life?

"When I was in her office for that lovely and pleasant meeting," I volunteered, "I saw a picture of her with her arm around another mannish, short-haired woman in a pantsuit. So I think she's...." I wanted to say, "The gruff, insensitive, middle-aged butch lesbian type, like Dr. Octopussy" but I held back.

"Gay," said Dr. Gentle. "Yes, she's been partnered with a prominent woman rabbi for many years. She's very open about that. I don't know why you students have trouble just saying that." Written out it seems a little harsh, but he wasn't castigating me, just pointing out an interesting reluctant tendency on the part of all of us.

You notice a few things right off the bat about Dean Evillene, Dr. Gentle told us. She's a New Yorker, born and bred. She has some pretty strong feminist credibility for two reasons -- working with battered women and being openly gay. And as the person who places 1,000 student volunteers at NYC nonprofits every year, she's one of the most powerful social workers in the city.

In my opinion, this makes what she did to me even worse. If she's got all this power, then she didn't need to wield it so cruelly and nastily against me. If I have so much less power than she does, it is reprehensible for her to use her power to denigrate me. And I'm not the only student she's treated so disrespectfully. She sets a terrible example of a feminist and a social worker.

I stated as much, and Dr. Gentle tactfully skirted the issue. He doesn't like taking sides, and frankly, taking my side against one of the most powerful social workers in NYC wouldn't be a very strategic move. He did point out that as manager of the internship department, she serves as a gatekeeper at the school. Essentially, she was hired to say no to students and make them do things they don't want to do. In that regard, she's a sterling success.

Among the attributes that confer power are privilege (i.e., who your family is, what race you are, what country you were born in), the ability to deploy numerous people to do as you will or suggest, and personal gifts or talents. I will never be able to overpower Dean Evillene in terms of the number of people I can command or influence, but I do have a gift for language. Powerless people have been satirizing the powerful for millennia; it's our only means of rebellion and defiance. If this blog ever is published as a book, Dean Evillene won't come out smelling very good.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

50 ways to leave your lover

My college social psychology professor pointed out that Paul Simon's song really refers to only one way: abandonment. That's what I'm dealing with now. I haven't heard from Hude since Sunday. I have, however, seen him browsing the dating website where we met, which I had to visit in order to respond to some email messages I got from extremely inappropriate candidates.

I'm not surprised that Hude bailed, but I'm surprised by how dejected and lonely I feel. When will I learn? Divorced guys who look like Hude -- Little Marty, JG, and the original toxic divorced guy, Narcissus, who promised to take me skydiving and to Prime Grill (not necessarily in that order) before pulling a complete disappearing act -- are no good for Ayelet. Their initial interest flares, then fades. Hude has joined the motley crew of men who led me on and disappointed me. Of course, Albert Ellis would say that I allowed myself to be disappointed by their behavior.

I'm also annoyed. Maybe it's because Hude's turnabout came right after the Arabian Knight's craven withdrawal, via IM, but I'm frustrated. What am I doing wrong? Why do I keep getting involved with men who initially thrill but ultimately disappoint me? Why can't I find a man who won't? Questions for the ages.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Sick. And. Tired.

My bad knees have woken me up three days running. Maybe it's the increased heat and humidity -- the past few days have been miserable. I'm really sick of this stupid injury.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Waiting game

I hate waiting for Hude to call and deliver his verdict. I'm having such a hard time concentrating or focusing on anything else. I'm doing fairly well at my internship -- see more below -- but I just can't read the 9,000+ pages I'm assigned every week (okay, I'm exaggerating, but only slightly) or work on the papers coming due very soon.

Maybe I should just reject Hude preemptively -- he's obviously unwilling or unable to compromise. Why should I be the only one to have to change for this relationship to work?

A classmate (who read about my first date in the Google group -- I'm really starting to regret posting the description of my first date with Hude...) pointed out that he's getting all worried about something that hasn't even happened yet -- i.e., my alleged "coarsening" after working with abusive parents. In fact, she noted, the opposite could happen: working with abusers could refine me, make me a better parent and a better person. He's assuming the worst.

Part of me thinks I should just call or email him and end this myself. But I also think that's my pride talking. Why does it matter who rejects whom? I shouldn't elevate my dignity any higher than it needs to be.

Anyway, I had a pleasant surprise at the clinical department meeting yesterday. Occasionally people present cases to the department, seeking insight and suggestions. I have a very interesting client and wanted to brainstorm some ideas, so I asked my supervisor if interns could present. Yes, of course, what a wonderful idea, Ayelet, don't be nervous.

So I presented at the meeting, asked a bunch of questions, got a ton of great suggestions, and felt good. I wasn't nervous; it wasn't difficult for me to present -- I'm shy at parties, but in academic or professional settings, I have absolutely no problem speaking up or asking questions.

But at the end of the meeting, when we share "Golden Moments" -- little incremental successes and triumphs that come our way as we do our job -- my supervisor mentioned me! For being brave enough to present a case at the meeting even though it was only my fourth week at the agency.

Now, the person who benefited most from me presenting the case was me. I'm still a student, for one thing; I'm also really new at the agency, and I don't know who all the go-to people are. This was an efficient way for me to get everyone's input and advice -- so I took it. Hence, I was surprised when my supervisor praised me for acting in my own self-interest. Especially since I find her kind of distant and hard to read -- remember, I didn't particularly like her when I interviewed.

But apparently she's pleased with my work. And that's a good feeling.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, July 09, 2007

Watching my weight

My friend Katie told me she lost a ton of weight by cutting out refined sugar and flour, upping her protein intake, and eating lots of fruit and some whole grains. I love fruit, I like whole-grain foods, and I can deal with protein, so I've taken her advice. Five pounds down; 25 to go. I'm calling it the "fruit and fiber" diet.

I was very happy to read that my seesawing weight, ranging between extremes of 99 to 165 pounds, and varying in general between 125 and 155, might not be a long-term health liability.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

The weekend nanny

The adorable red-haired, fair-skinned baby couldn't have been more than four or five months old. It was lying in a Snap N Go stroller at the park where I was playing with Tikva. Tending to it was a lady who was obviously not its mother; she looked and sounded West Indian.

Why have children if you're not going to spend any time with them? An infant that young is not a difficult charge; it basically wants to be fed, changed, held, and interacted with. Sing to it or read it the Wall Street Journal -- it's happy either way.

I can see needing a nanny during the week, when you've got a job to go to. But on the weekend, why don't you want to play with your own baby?
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Still confused

Saturday night I was all set to write about the wonderful Shabbat I had, playing with Batya and Tikva. But my intuition was telling me it wasn't going to work out with Hude, and I couldn't focus or calm down enough to write.

I absolutely loathe waiting for the phone to ring, and he had said that we'd go out to dinner soon but hadn't suggested a time, so I decided to send him a brief email:

Hey Hude -- my week is filling up fast. Are you available Tuesday or Thursday evening? Ayelet

At 2:29 a.m. Sunday morning, he thought that was a good idea:

Hi Lettush... boy you are a busy thing lol... tuesday tough, thursday might be nice... what time and where? How are you? Have you thought bout things...?

By 4:52 he'd changed his mind:

Ayelet... been tossing and turning... not sure about this..., must think this through more.... sundry thoughts... on hold... conflicted.

What happened to "Lettush"? Yikes. I immediately began to feel anxious and sad. I tried to use cognitive-behavioral thought restructuring:
  • It's only been one date.
  • Even though he's handsome and successful and funny, I shouldn't pin all my hopes on him.
  • There are plenty of things about him that I don't like, such as his political opinions.
  • If it doesn't work out, it's not my fault or for lack of trying.
  • He's not the only fish in the sea.
  • I really should stop dating this kind of recently divorced guy, especially when he looks like Little Marty and almost every other toxic divorced guy I've been entangled with.
  • FIVE KIDS?? FIVE KIDS???? FIVE KIDS??????
It didn't help. I wrote back:

I have thought about things. It's not a slam-dunk, but I think there's potential. I talked to some very wise friends, and they agreed that a couple doesn't need to agree on everything to work well together. The ikar is that you and I communicate well and we get each other, we make each other laugh and we respect each other even when we don't agree. Covering hair, children's schools, long sleeves, that can be negotiated. However, if you're really troubled by my career track or my liberal opinions, then that could be a problem. Also, maybe you need to date more than one woman after your divorce to get back into the game.

You still owe me earrings, regardless ;)

The earrings were for a bet that he proposed and I won. When we went into the bar and sat at a table in the rear, I assumed someone would come to take our drinks order; that's how it works in most upscale-ish bars. About 2-1/2 hours after we got there, the bartender strolled over to tell us there was no wait service, and if we didn't order drinks, he needed the table.

As he walked away, Hude said, "He's Irish."

"He is so NOT Irish," I said.

"He's Irish on both sides, Lettush."

"You're so wrong, Hude." The bartender was short, dark, and stocky. Half Latino or Italian and half Irish, maybe. Definitely not 100% Irish.

"Care to make it interesting?"

This was getting ridiculous, so I decided to play along.

"Okay, Hude, if he's not 100% Irish, you have to buy me something."

"Buy you what?"

It's a principle of bargaining to start at an extreme and gradually moderate your position. If you're buying, you low-ball; selling, you high-ball. I decided to high-ball. If I ask for earrings, I thought, he'll laugh and say that's ludicrous, and then I'll ask for a book.

"You have to buy me earrings," I said.

"Fine," he said. "What do I get if I win?"

I had no idea, because I had no expectation of getting him to agree to earrings! We decided that if he won, I'd buy him that book on psychopathy I'd told him about.

Leaving the joint, I bellied up to the bar and caught the tender's eye. "Settle a bet," I said to him. "Are you Irish?"

He looked at me as if I'd asked, "Are you Klingon?"

"No," he said, gently and patronizingly.

Hude and I walked out, and I told him, "I like pearls. Dangly earrings. Set in yellow gold."

But like a total IDIOT, I repeated this story to a few friends at school. Also speculated with them how I'd cover my hair if I married him, how long my sleeves would have to be, etc. The kind of talk that can give you a real ayin hara -- counting chickens before they're hatched.

If I don't even go on a second date with him, and collect the earrings, I'd look like an idiot in front of my friends. But actually, he's the one who'd come off looking bad, not I. Talk about ayin hara -- dozens of indignant people would be wishing him ill. He'd rack up some seriously bad karma.

I managed to convince myself that I didn't have to feel embarrassed in front of my friends. But this getting up and dashing of my hopes is just so exhausting! Why did he take me out (and ask me out again, then waffle) if he can't see a future? I can't take this kind of disappointment again. Well, I can, but I hate it.

Hude wrote back:

lololol... oy, you're good. Yes, you've smartly taxonomised the issues, and obviously, my conflict here lies in the career and the 'liberalism', though I didn't think you were egregiously liberal. Your ear was a compromising one, was nicely surprised at your forbearance... but oh the world we step into when its joel steinberg on monday, and susan smith on friday... that plus the disparite 'family' situation... less important, but still something... Not sure bout the dating-other-girls comment, I try to assess any situation independently and on its own merit... still clamoring internally... and yes, some earrings are due....

By "Joel Steinberg on Monday, and Susan Smith on Friday," Hude references my interest in working with parents who abuse their children. Hude believes that I would be coarsened by this kind of work, important as it is.

I told him I felt confused, and he said so did he, he needed time to think. Argh. I want to be patient, but not a doormat; assertive, but not pressure him. I wrote back:

Take all the time you need. One thought, though: every relationship takes work, and not everyone realizes that, which is why so many people have relationship problems. You and I will never fall into that trap, because we're always conscious of the work we're doing.

He responded:

Thank you, I agree, which is why I'm conflicted... certain components of your lifestyle here which are out of your control... I've virtually no doubt bout the things w/in your control... like your clarity of thought lettush

ARGH! It's not like he's the only one in this relationship with these kinds of doubts. He possesses many opinions that I fervently disagree with -- but since they're primarily political opinions, I'm inclined to agree to disagree. But I didn't emphasize that point. Instead, I decided to take the most-high road:

Have you spoken to your Rav about all this? Maybe he could help you achieve some clarity. Also, I don't know if you and your ex ever went for marital counseling, but premarital counseling has helped a lot of people.

I want you to know that burnout -- or "coarsening," as you put it -- is a risk anyone in a helping profession encounters. The important thing is to be able to maintain a clinical distance and to compartmentalize -- to differentiate between the people with whom you work and the people whom you love, have friendships with, parent, etc. I won't know how good I am at compartmentalizing until I start working with that kind of population. If I started to feel that the people I work with are changing who I am, I'd have to examine the job I was in and the agency where I was working. There is a lot I can do with this degree, and a lot of different populations I can work with.

He wasn't feeling that:

Lettush, I dont believe in counseling, pre/present/post period. As far as a 'Rav' goes, they've no soveriegnty on logic or relationships... we are at our own devices in this world, at least I am... our words ring true but cannot come w/a certified garuantee, would be impossible... there's a gamble here, irrespective of my presence/absence, there's a gamble, surely you must know that... you can plan out your ideals, but momentum and inertia are stronger than matrimony and love... believe me to know this for a fact (not talking about me)... "a mentch tracht, un der abieshter lacht"... man plans, and G-d laughs....

I felt aggravated. Also confused. He doesn't believe in therapy? Why is he dating a therapist?

I honestly wondered why I'm trying so hard to make this work. Part of me thinks it shouldn't be this hard, and I should give up on him. But another part of me KNOWS that this guy gets me and appreciates me and thinks I'm beautiful. That is so hard to find!

I'm really starting to think email is not the right venue for this kind of discussion, but a few things:

1. If you don't believe in counseling under any circumstances, how can you have any respect for what I plan to do with my life? I'm training to be a therapist! If you think therapy is always a complete waste of time, I'm surprised you wanted to go out with me at all.

2. A Rav's opinion isn't dispositive, but he can give good advice. Mine does. That's all I meant. I didn't say talk to "your Rebbe." I didn't tell you to ask him what kind of shoes you should wear or how you should clip your toenails.

3. "Man tracht, Gott lacht." I've heard that expression numerous times. What it boils down to, Hude, is this: Are you willing to put in the time and effort to see if we can make this relationship work, or are you looking for excuses to bow out before even trying?

Sorry if that sounds harsh, but I don't believe in beating around the bush.

He wrote back:

Lettush, therapy works for a particular and peculiar type of person, there are ppl who will respond to therapy, esp. the severe and clinically diagnosible cases... nobody is talking about that sort of therapy here. Furthermore, my gut tells me that a couple who need pre marriage therapy are pre certainly doomed from the getgo, your experiences notwithstanding. I don't bs Let, trying to vet things thru here; last thing I want is a commitment of time and a struggled effort (from either of us) to change you or your inclinations; the one collossal unknown here keeps asserting its hump... Maybe I will have a casual exchange w/a bright fellow I know, L

And that's where it stands.

So I was unable to do much studying today, but it wasn't a complete waste. I did do some research for the three papers I have due in the next three weeks, along with two major projects. (Why did I ever think social work school was easier than psychology school?)

And I had a date with another guy. It would have been fantastic -- he's brilliant, charming, attractive, sensitive -- but I found out why his first marriage failed: his wife had bipolar disorder.

Type I, not Type II like me, but I doubt he'd be interested in another ride on THAT crazy carousel. Also, after two hours in Starbucks, he said he was going to go hang out with friends (he's in from out of town, another less than ideal aspect). So I wrote him a nice little email saying that I had a great time, but didn't sense much chemistry, and he wrote back agreeing.

I also spoke on the phone with another guy I met online. I hadn't been much impressed by his website profile or his emails to me, and when I got a message from him on my voicemail, my heart sank. I just didn't like the way he sounded. I can't quite describe why; words like "charismatic" and "confident" and "poised" make it sound like I expect every guy who calls me to sound like a radio announcer, which is not the case. But I just wasn't impressed, excited, or drawn to him.

I called him back, and we talked on the phone, and the more we spoke the less impressed I was. He just didn't do it for me. And I've learned through painful experience that if I don't enjoy the initial phone call, I am going to have a miserable time on the date. So I told him I needed to think about things and I'd get back to him. He didn't sound pleased, but what could he say?

Later I emailed him to say that I'd thought about it and didn't think we were compatible -- he seems like a very nice guy, just not what I'm looking for. Maybe it's cowardly, but I'm feeling too exhausted to expend any more effort on guys I know have no potential. I'm too old for that.

I'd kind of like to end this post on a positive note, for my own sake if for no other reason. So I'll write about Batya and Tikva.

I went to shul to check in with the rabbi and see if he'd told the new executive director I'd be calling to discuss community mental health programming, and the Exec Dir is expecting my call. On my way out I ran into Adir and Batya; Alona was at home with a sinus infection. I decided to walk home with them to say hi to Alona, then proceed to Ruchama's for lunch.

Walking down the avenue, Batya was much friendlier to me than usual. She spontaneously reached for my hand when we crossed the streets, letting her father push her stroller. We counted the number of steps it took to cross the street, and then if there were 15 steps, there were 15 Aunt Ayelets -- one to run with Batya, one to stand on a stone, one to read a book, one to bake cookies, one to burp, and so on.

When we got to the apartment, Alona was conked out on the couch, so I said I'd just wash my hands and leave.

"Come to my room, Aunt Ayelet," commanded Batya. This was a first. We spent about 15 minutes playing with Barbie dolls, mainly putting their shoes on and hooking purses on their arms (the purses slid off unless you put the arm into taxi-hailing position; I guess that's appropriate, since the dolls do live in Manhattan). It was the first time Batya had spontaneously asked me to play with her.

Then I went to Ruchama's, where Tikva immediately made a beeline for me. She came at me from behind and head-butted my behind sharply.

"Ouch!" I said. "That hurt. Did that hurt your head?" I asked her.

"No," she said.

"Well, I guess my tushy is softer than your head," I said.

She thought for a moment, then gravely said, "You have a very soft and comfy tushy."

Later, I let Tikva work her magic on my hair as Ruchama watched, laughing. I asked Ruchama if she was familiar with the Audrey Hepburn quote about how to achieve beautiful hair.

Tikva's sister Bruria, just turned nine with newly pierced ears, hollered from the other room, "Ayelet's already beautiful!"

"You're getting earrings for your birthday, Bruria," I said.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Friday, July 06, 2007

Bewitched, bothered, and bewildered

That's how I feel after my first date with Hude.

He is as gorgeous, to me, as his pictures portended. (Although I think he's lying about his height in his profile, but I like short guys, so that's actually a plus.) And he's definitely a lot more frum than I am. This mandates a lot of negotiation.

My adorable classmates noticed that I was dressed up a little more than usual and teased the reason out of me (after class, I had therapy with Dr. Roda and then met Hud for our date). A bunch of them wanted to know who he was, how we met, what I thought about him, how the date went, etc. I ended up posting in our Google group, which I started so we can keep in touch after we graduate:

By popular demand, I'm letting you all know how my date went.

He is very bright, very funny, and very different from me in some ways, but very similar in others. He complimented my attire, appearance, and manicure, which I appreciated. There was a TON of chemistry. But there were also some... well, I called them arguments, and he called them discussions. He has some opinions that I really don't like. I have some opinions that he really doesn't like. We come from very different backgrounds, so there's a lot to negotiate. He is fascinated by my chosen profession (forensic social work) but also kind of scared by it.

All I know is, we're definitely going out again.

What I didn't tell them are the things that bother me the most:
  • He smokes. Less than a pack a day, but still. Of course, he exercises and I don't. And I'm pretty sure he doesn't have bipolar disorder.
  • He used the word "shvartze" and didn't think it was derogatory, just descriptive.
  • He's a big fan of Oscar Wilde, but thinks that homosexuals are sick, like people who practice bestiality.
So I don't know. I found myself wanting my frum friends to meet him, because I'm definitely distracted by his charisma and my loneliness. I want to know if he's reasonable-frum or WAAAAAAAAAAAY too frum.

But he thinks I'm attractive, and we're going out again. More than that I don't have to worry about right now.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

And the hits just keep on coming....

Insignificant Other just couldn't leave well enough alone:

Thanks for your response. It was a test to see if YOUR screen name CheekyGirl was apt. You passed.

(I HAD indeed read the bottom of your profile before I wrote, and, of course, flunked.)

Now, below, here"s a guy who might be more in line with your criteria. I don't thiiiiink he's on this website (but can't tell because the genders are segregated). The last time I actually named another site on this website I got kicked off, so if this feller seems interesting, you'll either have to look on the obvious place, or, as a lst resort, e-mail me at insignificantother@yahoo.com.

IsraelVolunteer
8255998
Single, Man seeking a Woman
For: Marriage & Children
From: Brooklyn, NY
Age: 39 years old
About Me
An honors graduate of the prestigious Norman H. Bates school of fine cutlery and motel management. Ladies, are you tired of meeting psychos? Are you finished playing with the players? Do you have priorities other than television and what color Brittany Spear's hair is today if she has any. If you do please read below: Stable and Kind goal oriented professional seeking wife and family. Here are some quick things to note: I believe family is the highest priority, not working until 10 PM or going bowling with the guys 3 nights per week. I have many interests besides watching television including active membership and participation in my synagogue, social affairs and lectures, concerts and shows, sporting events, biking, cooking, reading, learning, etc. I enjoy spending time in art museums, parks, and beaches. I have a special interest in history and archeology. In the summer, I enjoy hiking, camping, and canoing. I love dogs, cats, cows, and horses. For travel I enjoy going to see places with interesting architecture and scenic views. My idea of a vacation is also to wear a Zahal uniform, carry around an Uzi in 100 degree heat, sleep on a bunk swarming with flies, showering with cold water under a hose, eating eggs and Israeli salad 3 meals a day, and do oil changes on a tank. Finally there are other things to note: I am a coffee and wine afficinada, fan of classic suspense and mystery movies, have done a professional geneological project on my family, have gone on an archeological dig. Future goals include writing a book, earning my PHD or Rabbinical Smeecha, and finishing law school.

P.S. - It's me, Reuven, again. My hunch is that your neices/nephews are via a brother, probably an OLDER brother. Seriously, if this is so, why not throw that into your profile? B'nei Torah are told they should check out a prospective kallah's brothers, since most sons are similar to the MOTHER's brother. Kol Tuv.

I was so disgusted with him at this point, I couldn't leave well enough alone either:

My nieces/nephews are via my older sisters. I don't have any older brothers. And you apparently lack a sense of humor, a sense of judgment, and a sense of decorum. Perhaps your frontal cortex is succumbing to the first stages of dementia. I truly hope you never father any children. Research shows that older men are much more likely to sire children with autism or schizophrenia -- and in your case, I think that's a foregone conclusion.

Then I blocked him. I've had enough. Amusing as this exchange was, it's also toxic.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Just in case you're curious

This is how "insignificant other" -- the guy who thought my profile was much too much about Ayelet -- describes himself:

I love these descriptive essays; the key is to be subjectively honest.

I'm filled with absolutely cool middos, gevaldik good looks, cheseddika attitude. My table manners are impeccable and I know lots of Mishnayos b'al peh. I can make up stories that shock people at nearby tables in fancy restaurants.

I have enough brains to learn a blatt gemara.and to be a success in my career...But brains are no help when love and duty conflict.

Marriage is usually the derech by which males realize that the universe does not revolve around them. Well, I got real close to both goals several times. So I consulted a big Mkubal. He told me the trick is to be absolutely insignificant.

Problem is, no woman really wants a guy who is insignificant ALL ON HIS OWN. It's too much like being married to a self-deprecating wimp. Most guys a woman wants are those whose presumptuousness and arrogance LOOKS like it can be fixed - by her . Her mission: to demonstrate to him that he is insignificant WITHOUT HER. This restores the cosmic balance between chesed and gevorah, netzach and hod, chocolate and vanilla.

Having children is a big issue for me. It is a banal irony that initial chemistry has nothing to do with it. I don't know why HaShem has challenged so many dazziling, beautiful, saintly women by giving them difficulties in bearing children -- can't He figure out some other way to squeeze out heartfelt Tefilos from people? Why is this such a constant theme amongst our Avos and Imaos? Last night I caught a shiur from Rabbi Reisman shlit'a (piped in live to my shul in Albany). He described how Iyov wanted to take HaShem to a din Torah. Take a number and get in line, Tzaddik!

"Why can't you adopt?", some ask. Well, we could, and I would, but the mitzva is to procreate.( RAISING THEM is another project.)

Speaking of procreation, here's a little anecdote about a pet who had it all -patter, career & offspring! You can use as a test to see if your date really understands Ahavat Yisroel:
---
So this guy walks past a house with a sign in front that reads: "Talking Dog for Sale". Rings the doorbell and a man opens it; guy asks
"Where's this talking dog?"
"Right around the back...you'll see him" Guy goes to the back yard & sees a large yellow Labrador Retriever lying on the patio.
"Are you the Talking Dog?"
"Yep, thas me, " yelps the pooch.
The astonished guy asks "uhh, what's your story?"
"Well, when I was young I discovered I could talk. So I trotted over to the FBI field office and volunteered. The agents put me to work sniffing around suspected terrorists and drug dealers. These criminal targets all thought I was just another dog, so I was able to listen to their unguarded conversations and bring a lot of information back to my handlers. Eventually I met my mate, we had a couple of litters of puppies, and I retired... so here I am"

The stunned guy staggers back to the man at the front door.
"How much are you selling the dog for?"
"Ten dollars will do it"
"WHAT! I'm not complaining, but why so cheap?"
"Because that dog is just a big liar. He never worked for the FBI!"

OY---/(*!*)\ ---

What does this have to do with Ahavat Yisroel?
Plen-t-t-tty
One of my great strengths is discovering what makes ordinary Jews special...even those with some glaring flaws!
I can't stand cruelty especially to children so my job is with investigators and attorneys, busting child abusers.
People call me up for reassurance in all kinds of situations.

... I never really wanted to be a Rabbi (my great-grandfather and great uncles were) but I did wind up with smicha anyway. Now I have to get up before dawn and learn. Some guys have it tough. Gratitude and hard work never get perfected.

Classical music, impressionist art, and dewy dawns. I should say I have a beautiful voice. If you've ever fallen asleep on a date from sheer boredom, you can see how this is quite a "miylah". I can sing you to sleep BEFORE you get bored.

This is what he's looking for in a woman:

I'm looking for someone who absolutely hates long walks on the beach !

Talk about being all about yourself.... Good luck, dude.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Easy to see why THEY'RE still single

I got a message from a 57-year-old guy calling himself "insignificant other" -- and he surely is.

I'm only writing because you posted comments on the "Forum", BUT WHAT i'M GOING TO SAY isn't something that should be said except in private

Your profile is heartbreaking to me because you are very intelligent (unbelievable as it seems, perhaps even more intelligent that I) and sensitive (easily believable: more than I).

Yet your profile says only 4 things:

1)"me"
2)"Me"
3) "ME", and
4) "MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!"

I'm not better than you. That's what makes it so depressing.

Why, why, WHY do I attract these ridiculous creeps? (It goes without saying that his "About Me" section is long, weird, and terrifying. Glass houses.)

Good screenname, dude -- very apt.

Apparently you missed the part below the section where I'm supposed to describe myself -- where I describe the guy I'm looking for.

Here's my rationale: I tried to describe myself as fully as I could so that men looking at my profile would get a good sense of me. I tried to be more general when describing the type of man I'm looking for so that more men would feel comfortable contacting me.

This profile has worked pretty well so far -- I've gone out with a lot of men that I've met on here, and while none of them has been my bashert, I've gotten nothing but positive feedback from them about my profile and how well it's written.

Don't wonder whether I'm more intelligent than you are. I think the answer is pretty obvious.

Sheesh.

Then I got a message -- without a subject line -- from a Persian whose screenname is "persian." As we know, Persians are crazy. And apparently this one isn't too bright:

hey how are you :) Do you like to ........

That has to be the most open-ended and vague question I've ever been asked online, and I just was not in the mood to help him out.

Like to what?

was all I wrote, and all I wanted to say to him. He's read it; he hasn't responded.

Despite all that, I'm in a good mood. I met with a really cool new shadchanit, and I'm feeling optimistic. She's part of a new West Side shidduch group that includes participants from all the major synagogues. They have you meet for an interview, then they put you up for matches. I highly respect the woman I met with because, when I told her I don't like dating men who are much older than I am, she immediately said, "You shouldn't have to!" So they actually listen to and respect what you want and what your boundaries are.

And my fingernails, which I did myself, look fabulous. Of course, I used a very light pink shade, so that when the excess polish slops onto my cuticles, it's not so noticeable -- but nevertheless, they look awesome.

My nails don't look great when I'm depressed. They break off at different lengths. They get jagged and stay jagged, for days or weeks. I don't care about them -- I can't care about them. It's too much mental effort to clip and file them -- let alone lay down flawless, unsmudged layers of base coat, lacquer, and topcoat.

So I'm happy because my nails look nice -- and my nails reflect how I'm feeling.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

I'm MUCH too sexy!

Got an A in Human Sexuality. Go Ayelet!!!
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Some very literate online flirting

At his request, on Sunday I sent YM (aka "Hude," rhymes with "dude," short for Yehuda, which I spontaneously called him once and he liked, so now it's my name for him) a copy of one of my term papers, a DSM diagnosis of Jeffrey Dahmer for my Human Sexuality class. I'd described it to him, and he'd expressed an interest in seeing it.

Excellent read Ayelet, thank you, much enjoyed. Had a lot of unformulated thoughts, would have to reread a few times to cohere them properly. Quick observation: His aversion for killing victims while they were conscious indicates a modicum of conscience; Perhaps a person can become through conditioning 'de-conscienced' but even then it would be at most a suppressed conscience not a non existing one. Looking forward to reading that book to see exactly how the author applies the word "without" when using it in reference to a conscience.......good stuff kiddo, thanks

"That book" is Without Conscience, by Robert Hare, the world's leading expert on psychopathy; I'd referenced it in the paper and offered to lend it to him. I wrote back:

Hey Hude -- Dahmer wasn't without a conscience; he was not a psychopath. I wouldn't even diagnose him with "antisocial personality disorder," the weak diagnosis that psychiatrists who are afraid to use psychological tests came up with as a poor substitute for psychopathy in the DSM-IV. Remind me to tell you about that. Are we still tentatively on for Thursday? I'm going to be on the East Side for a meeting, but I'll be free by 7ish.

I've got an appointment with Dr. Roda, but Hude doesn't need to know that.

thanks for the rejoinder......sounds great, like the plan.... Remember, you're the gourmet so if you feel like patronizing a quiet lounge or the like hope you'll know of an accessible one... otherwise we can amble aimlessly and steal glances at each other lol....

A lounge? Sounds like drinks, not dinner, and I'll need to eat first. Best to make sure.

drinks or dinner, it's your call -- just let me know so I know whether to eat beforehand

and you can look at me profligately -- I'll give you all the glances you want, you don't have to steal them

I always let the guy choose whether we're having drinks or dinner, since he's the one who'll be paying for it.

lol profligately lol... excellent, just right for me, you're a cutie w/your locutions...

Well and good, but what are we doing on our date?

I'm a logophile, all right... but you didn't answer my question, habibi: dinner or drinks? either is fine, I just need to plan (I'm an unrepentant yekke)

He responded:

oysh sorry, slovenly pollack here who plans after the fact. Drinks eh voila!

I was a little disappointed. I guess I kind of expect to be taken for dinner on a date, especially early on in a relationship; I feel like it shows he's not stingy. My wise friend Dvora said this was a silly attitude. "Going for drinks shows that he's relaxed and not trying to prove anything (like whether he is stingy)."

I'm half Polish myself, but I decided to twit him anyway:

a pollack... then I won't expect you to be punctual or to use a fork and knife properly... so drinks or coffee would be best

My meeting is at 45th St./Park Ave. Do you want to meet somewhere around there? My cell # is xxx-xxx-xxxx. We can find a bar or coffee shop.

He was amused.

Sounds good to me Lettush... needn't worry bout the forks n knives, I was domesticated in England you know....

Hude lived in England from age 0-10, then spent 2 years in Guatemala, then moved to a midwestern state with a relatively small frum population. Maybe because he's an out-of-towner, not a typical New York yeshivish guy, he's less uptight and more fun. (One Brooklyn yeshivish guy I dated said after one date that he couldn't see marrying me because I didn't want to wear a sheitel all the time -- his sisters all wear sheitels, and he didn't want his wife to cover her hair any other way.)

Hude is not that rigid. I'll let you know how the date goes.

Oh -- "Lettush" isn't the way he pronounces "lettuce"; it's his nickname for me, the Israeli diminutive of Ayelet. After I called him "Hude" he decided he had to come up with a pet name for me. It sounds a lot cuter than it looks written out, trust me.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

To the naysayers

Several commenters have tried to dissuade me from buying a new watch to cheer myself up after losing my other watch and (coincidentally and simultaneously) exhausting my prescription benefits -- just the latest manifestation of how my medical insurance conspires to screw me again and again. And again.

I'm starting to get annoyed. At those comments, not the insurance; I'm already pissed at the insurance, but there's nothing I can do about it.

What other options do I have to cheer myself up and garner a bit of pleasure? Get a massage? I'm not tense right now, and a massage would set me back about as much as a watch would anyway. Eat a box of Entenmann's? Oh, wait -- I gained 30 pounds doing that a few years ago, which I am still trying to lose. (Losing weight is another manifestly unpleasurable experience that I'm enduring right now.)

How about a few hours of glorious, unrestrained sex? Nope -- I'm still unmarried. I'm not allowed to have sex. I also don't have any children to comfort and entertain me, either. (Don't even THINK about telling me what a pain in the ass children can be. I am not in the mood to hear that.)

So buying a watch -- for less than $100 -- is not such a terrible option. I won't have to sell my body or my blood to swing it, or live on oatmeal and cat food for the rest of the month. I'm not hypomanic; if I were, I'd want to buy 6 watches for no reason at all, instead of one watch to replace the one I lost.

I need pleasure in life. And right now school, my internship, and my personal life are remarkably devoid of pleasure. Without pleasure, people get depressed. In my case, I could get seriously depressed. As in slit-my-throat depressed.

So I need some cheering up. Badly. This is part of the way I manage my moods. If I want to buy a new watch, I'm going to buy a goddamn watch. And comments from the normal-mood peanut gallery are not requested and not welcome.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, July 02, 2007

Losses

Recently my stainless steel watch stopped working, and I replaced it with a newer model. I've been liking it a lot more than my other watch, the gold one. Today I was thinking how bored I was with the gold watch -- how if I lost it, I'd have to get a new, hipper one. Then I looked to check the time, and it was gone. It's almost too Freudian.

More importantly, I also lost my prescription coverage. Actually, I didn't lose so much as exhaust it. I've used up my allotment of prescriptions for this semester. I can't get any new ones until I sign up for next year's medical plan.

I have enough medication to get me through July. After that... I'm paying full price. Which is prohibitively expensive. Kind of makes the lost watch seem like not such a big deal.

I hate insurance companies. I hate this illness. And I hate this stupid absent-mindedness. I've been losing and finding a bunch of things lately -- the cap to my memory key, my psychopharmacology textbook, my good tweezers. All of those turned up, so I suppose there's a remote chance my gold watch will also resurface.

I doubt it, though. And if I'm going to be spending several hundred dollars on prescription medication this August, I might as well get myself a funky new watch as consolation. What the hell. It's only money, right?
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, July 01, 2007

SFSG

Stands for "So far, so good."

Hude is fine on every point except the elbow-covering sleeves, which I theoretically could learn to live with if I got to completely revamp my wardrobe. In all other regards, he's normal, funny, cool, smart. VERY smart. And appreciates my intelligence and sense of humor, which jive with his uncannily. We have a date Thursday night.

He really is exactly my age. Almost. He's three days younger than I am. So we're the same zodiac sign -- which for us portends well in terms of compatibility. Also, I totally respect a guy in his late 30s who's not chasing women in their early 20s; apparently the other profiles he was checking out were of 35-year-olds.

The main drawback is that Hude just joined the website a few days ago, and I'm the first woman he's actually spoken to and made plans for a date with. Part of me thinks there's no way he'd be happy to let this lead directly to marriage -- doesn't he want to play the field just a little? But he claims he doesn't, so I'm going to try to keep my paranoia in check.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Am I desperate or decompensating?

A "yeshivish modern" equity trader wrote to me on a dating website. For those who don't speak Frummish (the jargon -- part English, part Hebrew, part Yiddish -- that orthodox Jews use to communicate with one another), that means he's a lot more religious than I am. In general, people who identify as yeshivish are a lot more conservative and traditional than those who identify as modern orthodox, as I do. I couldn't find a good definition of "yeshivish" online, but I did find a pretty funny take-off on Jeff Foxworthy's "You Might Be a Redneck" routine. (You might not get the jokes unless you're actually familiar with the orthodox world.)

Anyway -- he fits my toxic type perfectly. Not overly tall, sandy hair, somewhat large head, swimmer's build, divorced. In other words, gorgeous and irresistible to Ayelet.

But: Yeshivish modern? Off the top of my head I can think of 10 things we won't have in common. I want my daughters to learn gemara, and he probably won't be comfortable with that. I want to have a TV and an internet connection in the house, and he probably doesn't. I like movies and Broadway shows; he probably is concerned about kol isha. I wear sleeves above the elbow and skirts above the knee, and he probably doesn't approve of that. Probably wouldn't appreciate the fishnets -- or bare legs, sandals, and anklets -- that I sport, either.

I am looking forward to a demanding career. He might want a stay-at-home wife. I don't restrict myself to cholov yisroel foods, and he probably does. This means he won't eat Hershey's, Ben & Jerry's, Entenmann's, and other foods that I regard as perfectly kosher. (Although I should be off Entenmann's more or less for life, after gaining 20 pounds from it.)

Shouldn't I take Boaz' advice and avoid guys like this? There are so many reasons why this could not possibly work. And yet... it's not just that he's hot. He's also literate. And he's exactly my age, not 9 years younger or 20 years older. So seldom does a guy like that show interest in me and write something like:

Excellent post, well written, eye-catching (despite the blinding absence of a snapshot), intriguing (not bad for a girl, lol), and engaging.... drop a quick peek at my profile if you can spare the seconds and please do chime in if anything there resonates.... all the best, Yehuda Menachem.

"Resonates"? When did I last hear that on a dating website? Never, that's when. But wait...

"Not bad for a girl"? Curious as to what you mean by that.

I only show my photo to men who prove themselves worthy ;) Unfortunately, I might have a few too many "liberal" opinions for you.

Yehuda Menachem (YM) said in his profile that he wasn't interested in "liberals." While I consider myself moderate, others -- notably G.I. Josh -- have begged to differ.

lol.... "who prove themselves worthy"? Curious as to what you mean by that, actually, skip it, I know what you mean! (though would like to know if by 'liberal' our definitions coincide...)

By "nbfoag" I simply meant that after perusing the many profiles, most of the bio's were laden w/cliche's, predictable idioms, and benign common courtesy's.... nothing new or revealing into the person, the character.... Your profile by contrast was crafted w/distinction and originality, hence the compliment. May I suggest you perfect the picture by using a slightly less aggrandizing word than "worthy", lol, (too self serving if you know what I mean)....

I am such a sucker for men who use polysyllabic words correctly, even if they can't manage to use grammatical plural forms.

Okay, I take your point. I haven't read any women's profiles on this site, so I guess mine could shine by comparison ;) I'm also glad you gave me more of a sense of what you liked about my profile. Most guys write something like:

"nice profile... can I see ur pic pls..."

I don't show my picture to a guy unless he can articulate why he liked my profile. Since you did, I'll give you my password: XXXXX.

What I meant by "liberal" is that I have some very liberal opinions. I don't believe the death penalty is imposed in a race-impartial manner, for example; too many studies have shown a strong relationship between defendant race and whether a death sentence is applied. I'm getting a master's in social work, which is an EXTREMELY liberal environment. On some issues, such as Israel, I'm more moderate or conservative. You just said "No liberals" in your profile, so I wanted to let you know that I do have some liberal opinions. I'm not a Hitchens fan, although I appreciate some of Buckley's oeuvre.

How many kids do you have?

The next post blew me out of my chair:

As it happens, R. Moshe has quite a long "teshuva" on the death penalty and its employment outside of Sanhedrin jurisdiction. While there is no room for doubt re its mandate and enforceability, its applications many times are questionable and suspicious. If there is ever any doubt ever as to the veracity of guilt, it is forbidden to execute. I think it's fairly obvious that many death row convicts are either innocent or convicted (even if guilty) on extremely specious evidence, esp. when it pertains to minorities. Acc. to Torah Law for ex. if 1 innocent gets mixed into a batch of 100 guilty's, and it cannot be determined who is the innocent, they're all set free.....(sorry for getting pedantic). Glad you appreciate buckley, he's one of a kind! Nice picture. 5 kids, w/mother, have them twice a month on Shabbos...

Five kids? FIVE KIDS?????????

After I peeled myself off the ceiling, I wrote back:

I usually don't mind pedantic. So we agree on one issue. That's something.

5 kids?? That's quite a pack. How old are they?

I guess I didn't convey too much shock and horror, since he wrote back calmly:

lol, great glad about that at least.... Kids are 5,6,7,9, and 12....heck of a pack esp the 3 little ones (boys)....2 eldest in sleep away month of july, all going to Israel w/their mother month of august...

Hmmm. I decided that I wasn't going to learn enough about him trading emails like this, and decided we should speak on the phone. YM's supposed to call me tonight; if he does, I'll report back on the conversation.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

Ghosts of boyfriends past

Shimona was in my neighborhood this Shabbos, and we spent a little time talking about the Knight. She suspects that he dated me until he got what he wanted, then left. It's possible. She doesn't discount the possibility that he also actually liked me.

I went to the Great Lawn to meet up with a friend and ended up seeing G.I. Josh -- from a distance. It was almost spooky. He didn't come over to say hi, but I'm pretty sure he saw me because he left quickly. It was a relief not having to talk to him. He didn't look happy, but according to everyone I've spoken with about him, he's not.

This morning I got an eVite to a 4th of July party from Little Marty; apparently he's in the mood to cook. Out of curiosity I looked at it. I know one other person he invited, but I'm not at all interested in going. I don't know why he invited me, but I don't really care.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"