Sunday, December 30, 2007

Dating the same freaks

"I thought you'd appreciate this," said Shimona. "Last June I went out with this guy -- he picked me up, drove me two minutes to a nearby park, and we walked around for an hour while he complained that all the women he dates never call him back and kvetched about his knee problems. Didn't buy me so much as a bottle of water.

"Then last week I get a message from some guy on a dating website," she continued. "His profile looked fine -- tall and outdoorsy, which I like -- but for some reason I thought it might be the same guy. So I responded with an email asking if he were that same guy, and then I saw he was online so I sent him an IM. He initially responded, but then when I asked if we'd gone out back in June, he closed the IM window. Never bothered to answer my email."

For some reason, this really struck a chord with me. An eerily familiar chord. "What's his profile name?" I asked.

"Bruce Wayne," she said.

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" I shrieked. "That's the guy who stood me up via email!!!!!!"

I knew my dating pool was shallow -- but this is a kiddie pool!

"Ayelet, you have to blog about this," said Shimona.

"Now we know why the women he dates never call him back," I said. "Mystery solved."
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Change is necessary, if not good

"Ayelet haShachar" means "the morning star." I love that -- it's such a wonderful metaphor for hope rising after darkness. And with the re-onset of my terminal insomnia, it's a pretty good metaphor for me, too. However, "Ayelet Shachar" is a law professor in Toronto. (I should definitely have Googled both names before naming this blog.)

So I'd better change my pseudonym before I reopen this blog to the world, which I plan to do as soon as I have a solid job offer. Of course, I won't say where my new job will be, in case the evil psychologists at The Bad Place want to meddle.

Maybe it's the lack of sleep, but I think a good nom de blogue for me would be "Ayelet Survivor." After all I've been through, I should celebrate the fact that "I'm still here." It also is somewhat reminiscent of Sojourner Truth -- and ain't I a woman?
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Maternal depression

This terminal insomnia is really getting old.

I just read an article about Marian Radke-Yarrow, a psychologist who studied maternal depression in many forms. Apparently children of mothers with bipolar disorder tend to do slightly better than "normal" children in elementary school but by adolescence are as troubled as children of mothers with unipolar depression. Of course, not all children of mothers who are depressed suffer ill effects -- some are resilient.

I know I should stop breastfeeding and not worry about how my illness might impact my putative children, but I can't help reading articles like this and wondering.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Another Brooklyn boy

Okay, so I had nothing better going on tonight -- actually I was supposed to have drinks with a supposed friend, but I canceled after he emailed me,

Wear sumthin' sexy

Uh-oh.

He and I worked together more than ten years ago, and I hadn't seen him in at least five years, when I ran into him and his pregnant wife outside Cafe Edgar's. He found me on Facebook recently, after his divorce, and we went for drinks. The more he drank, the more he gave off a slightly romantic vibe, which was decidedly odd to me, since I'd never been interested in him in any way except as a colleague. He's Jewish, although not orthodox, and he's always struck me as very narcissistic -- I wasn't surprised he'd gotten divorced, since he seemed to love himself more than his wife. Plus, he's as enthusiastic a Republican as G.I. Josh, and I've had about enough of that to last me a lifetime.

Moreover, Self-Centered Republican (is that totally redundant?) worked with me during one of my worst hypomanic episodes, when I was fired from the first of several jobs lost due to illness. I wasn't sure what he remembered from that time, but I assumed it couldn't be complimentary, since memories from those days make me cringe.

At that time I was a good 45 pounds lighter than I am now, probably the prettiest I've ever been -- that hypomania followed the depressive episode when I lost 1/4 of my body weight. It didn't occur to me that SCR would consider me attractive now -- so the vibe was perplexing, and I wasn't sure if I was really feeling it. But he had three drinks, was annoyed that I just had coffee, and before he left took my hand and made me promise that next time we got together I'd drink something alcoholic.

I wrote to SCR this past week and said, "I'm done with the semester, and I could use a drink!" We planned to get together tonight. But then he requested sexy attire, and I got nervous. I wrote him:

Why?

His answer didn't really satisfy me:

It's Saturday night!

Then he wanted to meet even later than we'd scheduled, and I didn't want to be drinking with him late at night. So I had coffee with Captain TMI instead.

Going out with two Sephardim from Brooklyn in one week might be more than I can take. Captain TMI wasn't as annoying as Captain Best Effort, but he was also very "I, I, I, me, me, me." Where he's lived, what he's done, his accomplishments, his family, whom he's dated, yada yada yada. He's led an interesting life, true, but I heard a little too much about it, including his parents' divorce and his broken engagement. (Is it some kind of requirement that Sephardic Brooklyn guys break at least one engagement before they meet the right girl?)

I don't know if he's going to ask me out again. He did appreciate my cool black nail polish and my intelligence, and wanted to see copies of the article I've published and the one I'm sending around. I think we'll be Facebook Friends, but I don't think he's the guy for me. Actually, I'm kind of already thinking of another girl for him -- but first we'll see if he wants to see me again. He didn't repulse me physically or annoy me cognitively as much as CBE did, so I guess I'd go out with him again.

Before I went to meet Captain TMI at, coincidentally, Cafe Edgar's, I contacted another guy on the dating website. He's three years younger than I am and something of a gym freak, so I didn't know if he'd be interested in me, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. According to his profile he's a diehard romantic seeking a kind, attractive, poised, professional woman, and "I have a lot to give the right princess who wants to be treated like a queen."

Sounds good...

Subject: do you like brunettes? ;)

You sound like a true romantic. I would love to be treated like a queen, as long as I'm allowed to give as good as I get.

When I got back from coffee with Captain TMI, I was pleased to find his response:

Of course, who doesn't like brunettes, especially grounded, balanced and pretty ones!

It would be nice to get acquainted. I try to be romantic, too!

But I have one reservation. That is, while I'm not looking for "casual passion" as your uncouth suitor so ineptly proclaimed, I'm also not ready to settle down VERY soon. I tend to take my time in getting acquainted. I don't believe in a shidduch approach where we meet and get married in 6 months. I promise to treat you like a queen regardless of where things may go. I like to think that I have amazing derech eretz, but no humility in self-assessment :)

But I'd be privileged to get to know you as time unfolds and as a romantic story may begin!

Charming -- and for once I'm not saying that sarcastically! How should I respond?

Some guys like blondes ;) Thanks for the compliments -- you are as charming (and cute!) as your profile indicates.

I would love to get to know you better. For the record, I would *never* get married within six months of first meeting someone, although I don't think I would date someone for much longer than six months before breaking up or getting engaged. But that's kind of premature to consider at this point -- right now we should just see if we get along well enough for a date.

As they say in Yiddish, "Don't be humble -- you're not so great" ;) I'm glad that you value derech eretz; it seems to be an endangered species nowadays. Give me a call sometime and we'll see if there's potential for a first date.

I'll keep you posted....
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Huh???

Honestly, men will never cease to befuddle me.

So I write to this guy on a dating website. He sounds kind of interesting. Says he's a big man in the Sephardic community and an amateur tour guide. So I wrote him asking what's his favorite stop on the NYC tour bus. He writes back saying I'm cute, he likes the Lower East Side and Bowling Green, and includes a link to his website -- which says he works to get reparations for the Sephardic Jewish refugees from Arab lands. I mentioned that I knew about that struggle before meeting him, since I am not one of those Ashkenazim who thinks Jewry starts at Germany and ends at Russia.

He still hadn't mentioned anything about asking me out, however, and I started to wonder after getting his next message:

"Not all Ashkenazim think Jewry starts at Germany and ends at Russia" (yes, just most) lol.

I love all of the world's Jewry!

I am finding there are a lot more people on here, newbies. Have you noticed this for men too?

What am I supposed to make of that statement?

Are you telling me I've got a LOT of competition and better bring my A game?

He responded:

lol, no silly. Just that I have been on here a lot in the last 2 weeks, and I see many new faces.

I met a girl here from London who wrote me first. I told her I don't date outside of NYC, and she said, "no problem, I am visiting there this weekend." We planned to go out tonight, nothing serious, just for coffee (she was as witty as you!), but we were using that new IM when she sent me her phone number - but I left her number on my desk in the city!! I was to call her tonight. Oh well, she may think I am a flake, but that's not me. She has my number, maybe she will call.

Since when is it a smooth dating strategy to tell women who might want to date you about the other women trying to date you? What do you say to a guy like that, besides "TMI"?

So I take it you're not interested in going out with me.

Captain TMI responded:

As I mentioned, I told her I don't date people outside of NYC, and she is from the UK. I told her, we may meet, and have coffee, "but don't bring your wedding dress with you," she gave me a cute reply.

Anyway, she just called me in the last 10 minutes, she is busy tonight with her girlfriends, and tomorrow I am going to Maryland, so we can't meet. Que sera sera.

So, want to have coffee, you can tell me about your Lower East Side days and I can fill your ears with mishmash about....well, just about any topic.

Okay -- so the UK chick didn't work out, and you've decided to settle for the local talent. I honestly don't know if I should go out with him. Readers?
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

My mood improves in fits and starts

On the minus side, I'm still overeating and experiencing terminal insomnia. On the plus side, I just did my nails with cool black polish and they look fabulous. Very short -- I had to cut them way down to even them out -- but more or less neat and sophisticated. That's not something I can pull off when I'm completely depressed.

I'm also thinking of inviting a friend of mine to help me organize my apartment. She wants to start a small business doing this on the side -- I figure, I'll let her take "before" and "after" pictures of my place and pay her about $200 (and let her use the kicky name I made up for the service gratis). It's a studio, so that sounds fair, right?
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

An off-the-books lesson in advocacy

Or, "What you shouldn't have to learn in social work school." I've sent a draft of this letter to Professor Fun, Professor Wise, and the Executive Director for Diversity, Human Rights and Social Justice (that sounds like the title for the head torturer in 1984 or Communist Cambodia, but she's actually a wonderful person) for their input:

Dear Dean Evillene:
As you may know, last summer Eleanor told me that I owed the school 200 hours of field placement in order to graduate. I am herewith requesting that this requirement be waived in light of two facts:
1. I am working at an advanced second-year level;
2. The 200-hour deficit resulted not from lack of a suitable placement as soon as I needed one but from your office's failure to place me in a timely manner.

My first-semester evaluation amply demonstrates that my clinical skills are at not only an appropriate level, but indeed an advanced level. I have taken initiative in assessment and treatment of client needs, work both with groups and individuals, research and implement evidence-based practices, and provide both psychotherapy and case management to my clients.

I am confident that the staff and clients at the ACT team would all testify to my capabilities, initiative, responsibility, and industry. Therefore, despite the missed time at my first-year placement, I am not in need of any remediation. Moreover, the Council on Social Work Education requires only 900 hours of fieldwork to attain the MSW degree. If I complete the 600 hours this year at my current placement, I will have more than enough to meet this requirement.

Should you argue that our school has higher standards than the CSWE, I can only remind you that this deficit in my fieldwork is not due to any negligence or failure on my part. When I was removed from the abusive and prejudiced environment of my original first-year placement, I offered Eleanor two options for other placements where I could have started immediately. Instead, I was kept out of placement for a full six weeks -- 186 fieldwork hours of the 200 that I allegedly owe your office.

Had I known that I would be expected to make up those fieldwork hours on my own time, I would have insisted that I be placed immediately at one of the perfectly valid placements I found for myself-first-year student or not. Instead, I complied with Eleanor's requirement that I allow only her to place me, and did not find out until the end of the second semester that I would be expected to work 200 extra hours -- a direct result of her mismanagement of my situation.

Five weeks after graduation is a very long time to be expected to work without a salary and significantly hinders job-hunting, since I would not be accept an offer that required me to start right away. In addition to lost income, I will be unable to accrue time toward securing health insurance, since most employers do not offer coverage right when employees join. Unless your office is prepared to compensate me financially and provide comprehensive insurance coverage for the time when I will lack it, I refuse to continue at this placement beyond the Spring 2008 term.

I hope we can resolve this matter at this level.

Sincerely, Ayelet Survivor, M.A.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Of course it couldn't be that easy

Captain Best Effort just had to IM me on Frumster, complaining that I ran out on him in the restaurant. I tried to apologize, but he wasn't having it. So I tried to displace a little blame.

Ayelet: look, I'm sorry, but you have to realize that it was weird for me to think that you were all into me just because I resemble your ex-fiancée

Captain Best Effort: the only crime i have is that i am a nice guy; i was trying to pay you a compliment, i was trying to make you smile

A: That's not a compliment. I'm sorry, but it's weird.

CBE: I won't apologize for that. I was being nice, if you felt wierd that was your problem, not mine

A: Look, can we agree to disagree and let this go? I apologized for running out of the restaurant, and there's nothing else I can do.

CBE: i had to tell you that because you ran out on me

A: Tell me what?

CBE: what i felt like

A: I'm sorry. There's nothing more I can do.

CBE: why were you so frustrated?

A: Because I was trying too hard. You are a nice guy, and I just couldn't make myself feel chemistry.

CBE: chemistry comes without trying

A: Well, it didn't come for me.

CBE: well why do you think it came to me

A: because I remind you of your ex

CBE: no i said you had the same face structure and body movement

A: close enough

CBE: no

A: CBE, what are you trying to accomplish? I apologized -- what more can I do? Please let it go.

CBE: I am trying to give my input

A: What do you want?

CBE: to get it straight

A: Get what straight? Nothing is going to make me want to go out with you.

CBE: I said to get it straight i did not say let's go out

A: Get what straight?

CBE: i was not very much into you

A: Okay. That's good to know.

CBE: I thought you were very rude to me

A: I apologize. You deserve better.

CBE: why did you think that i was trying to get another date with you?

A: You're not telling me what you're trying to do. I get that you're not that into me and I was rude. What do you want???

CBE: nothing much

A: Please let it go. I'm sorry, and I hope the next girl treats you the way you deserve to be treated -- with respect.

CBE: i wished it could have been better

A: So do I.

CBE: i feared the exact thing when i did not call you before

A: What?

CBE: that you would be taking me for granted and one word i would say would make you make this great manuscript how you did not feel this chemistry

A: CBE, I don't think this is getting us anywhere, and I don't think it's going to make you feel better.

CBE: it did

A: Okay, well, then I'm glad you're feeling better.

CBE: i was a bit concerned about you, it seemed you were going to cry on me

A: Don't worry about me.

CBE: I have a heart -- when i see someone in pain i offer a handkerchief

A: that's very sweet of you, but I'm fine

CBE: i am glad you are, i know its hard to find the right person

A: Maybe we'll both have better luck in the New Year

CBE: maybe

A: take care of yourself, CBE

CBE: take care of yourself as well... you are a beautiful women

A: thanks, you are a genuinely nice guy

CBE: smile a lot.. because that is what makes you beautiful

A: I will. have a good evening

CBE: yes that is my downfall... goodnight

Oysh. Any married person who doesn't think dating is arduous, agonizing work is completely out of touch with reality. Bordering on psychotic.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

The truth shall set you free

Okay, so it's a quote from the New Testament, but it's Christmas, after all.

I went out again with Captain Best Effort, and it was Not Good. I just don't like him. He annoys me. His mannerisms, his unmanly fussiness, the way he constantly relates every conversational topic back to himself somehow, as though he were the most fascinating creature in the five boroughs, and maybe the universe.

It's not just that he's physically unattractive -- so was G. I. Josh. But before G. I. Josh turned all passive-aggressive, he was a wonderful conversationalist and a very entertaining companion. And I fell in love with him despite his mediocre looks. (And he was great in bed despite his mediocre looks.) So it's not that I'm totally superficial when it comes to appearances. I just cannot tolerate annoying guys.

Captain Best Effort wanted us to meet for lunch so we could really spend some time together. After he picked me up, every minute seemed longer than the last. I tried really, really hard to be open to him, but it was no use. He' s a nice guy, but he's weird. I don't enjoy his company, and physically he repulses me. I was tense and unhappy. I didn't want to be there with him.

"Last night, my father and I went out for lafa," he told me when he picked me up. "I ate so much meat and lafa -- it was sitting like a brick in my stomach."

Charming. Walking in the brisk air, I zipped up my jacket and shivered; it was sunny but chill.

"You need a big scarf," he told me. "I used to get just little scarves, and they wouldn't keep me warm. Then I got a big scarf, and ah...."

I might strangle you with it.

We got to the restaurant, one of the pricier joints in my neighborhood, and I was relieved to see they had an inexpensive lunch menu. I was already dreading the rest of the date -- at least I wouldn't be wasting too much of his money.

"I like your watch," he said, reaching over to capture my hand. I pulled it back abruptly.

"You know, I didn't want you to hold my hand last time, so it's really inappropriate for you to try that again this time," I said tersely.

"I didn't try to hold your hand," he protested. "I just wanted to look at your watch. It's only the second date -- it's too soon for us to hold hands." He smiled at me.

Oh. My. Gd. Kill. Me. NOW. He's doing it again! He's telling me what he thinks I want him to say. I can't stand it!

After a few awkward minutes, during which I tried my best not to glower, we started chatting again. But it was so hard to look at him. He was trying so hard -- and he liked me so much -- and I was so not into him.

"You know, you remind me of someone," he said. "Not just the way you look, but your manners, and your body language."

So he's known more than one dark-haired chubby bitch. Wait...

"Someone you went out with?" I asked.

His mouth said "No," but everything else said "Yes"; he shifted in his seat and looked coyly away.

"The girl you were engaged to?" I pursued.

"Well... yes."

Eesh. Talk about transference. I must have looked annoyed because he said, "You don't take compliments well."

Excuse me? "That wasn't a compliment!" I said.

"Yes it was!" he insisted. "I said you look like someone beautiful. You are beautiful."

I shook my head. Hopeless. At least this explains why he pursued me so ardently even after I was so mean to him.

Somehow we found another topic of conversation, and something he said made me smile.

"I like that smile," he said. "You look so nice when you smile like that, and you haven't been smiling much today."

Sigh. Should I tell him how I feel? I really don't want to spend any more time with him than I have to. I've tried, and I've tried, and it's just not working. Nothing I do or say could possibly make this worse or more awkward.

Here goes... "I'm sorry," I said. "I can't help it. You're a really nice guy... but I'm just not feeling this. There's no chemistry. It's not working."

He was somber for a moment. "Well... thank you for your honesty," he said. "You're very brave, to tell me that face to face."

"I thought you deserved that -- it's the least I could do," I said. "I think you're a really great guy -- you're just not the guy for me."

And that was it.

"I had a feeling," he said. "That's why I suggested we go to a restaurant near your apartment." Maybe true, maybe not. Doesn't matter -- I'm off the hook.

He did offer me a word of advice before I escaped. "You're a very beautiful girl, Ayelet," he said. "You shouldn't be so quick to judge other people. Give them a chance."

Never said he wasn't perceptive. He'd picked up on my aversion from the start, I guess. I am pretty easy to read, especially when I'm absolutely miserable. But I tried, I honestly did. I just couldn't do it.

I felt great for a few minutes after I left the restaurant, free, free, free!

... but now I just feel empty. I went into a drugstore to pick up a few things on my way home and looked at my face in one of the cosmetics display mirrors. I didn't see the beautiful girl he saw -- just a chick who seriously needs to drop a few pounds. But when Captain Best Effort looked at me, he didn't see me, either -- he saw his ex-fiancée.

Who is going to look at me and think I'm that beautiful because of who I am, not because I remind him of someone else? And will I be able to look at him and actually enjoy the view?
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, December 24, 2007

Mom, Grandma, cats, and baths on the lawn

Another bizarre dream. I dreamed that Jerusha and I were living with my mother and grandmother in a house with dozens of cats, an incontinent parrot I really wanted them to get rid of, and a big bubble bath on the lawn. My grandmother does live with my parents, but they only have two cats, and no parrots.

No idea why. I also dreamed I was a person who put on a fur coat and went to live with bears in the winter.

At least my dreams are adventurous. I'm mostly over a really bad cold, and basically done with the paper I have to write to complete my incomplete course, but I have no other plans for Christmas. Although I actually washed a few of the dishes that have been marinating in the sink for weeks, which is usually a good sign, I still have no desire to go to any of the Christmas-Eve parties thrown by a bunch of fun Jews.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Friday, December 21, 2007

Terminal insomnia redux

I don't know if it's got anything to do with the light box, but after I re-introduced it my terminal insomnia has returned with a vengeance, following several weeks of relatively good sleep. Damn it all.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The invaluable intern

Our ACT team bills Medicaid in two ways: "partial," which means we've had two client contacts that month, and "intensive": six. A contact is 15 minutes or more spent with the client in the course of a single day. My supervisor's on vacation, so I'm trying to meet with several of her clients before the end of the month to bring them up to six contacts -- and to see how they're doing, of course. I'm also being sent to take care of random other clients when the full-time workers are too busy.

Today I spent about an hour and a half taking one client home after a minor surgical procedure. She was hungry, so we stopped by a deli so she could get a sandwich. Then the anesthetic wore off and we ran to the pharmacy to fill her painkiller prescription.

I tell you, her face lit up when I walked into the waiting area. "Ayelet! I'm so glad it's you!" she said, enveloping me in a hug. She looked like one of my nieces meeting me at the door. We're really not supposed to touch the clients; next time I see her, I'm probably going to have to tell her that I only hug people right after they've had surgery.

So the client was delighted, the client's caseworker was happy, and the program director was ecstatic -- because that was our sixth contact with that client. Another intensive payment from Medicaid. "I'm going to miss having a student in May," said the program director wistfully. I just hope the client doesn't catch the cold I'm coming down with.

I spoke to Captain Best Effort last night. He wanted to take me out for a looooooooong date. He wants to spend lots of time getting to know me.

"Let's go to Rockefeller Center!" he cried enthusiastically.

"Why?" I asked, hoping he would not suggest ice skating.

"You know, to look at the tree, to walk around..." he said.

It's so romantic. And I'm so not in the mood to do that with him.

I finally agreed to have dinner with him again, but said that in the beginning part of a relationship, it's not a good idea to spend too much time together. It's good to have time apart so you can reflect on how things are going.

He bought it, but I'm wondering. If I were into him, I'd totally want to spend the day with him. Instead, I can only take him in small doses. Am I really trying to fit a square peg into a round hole? It's so hard to know. On paper there's nothing wrong with him that's, well, not wrong with me; "I'm not attracted to chubby guys," she said, polishing off the last doughnut in the box. He likes to be cultured and well-rounded and well-read. All good things. Why aren't I impressed?

On our date, toward the end, he tried to take my hand and I pulled it away. He was talking about how I look so very young for my age, most women's hands reveal their age but mine don't. He reached out and took my hand; I pulled it back. Nice try; I know I look young, you can't disarm me that easily.

He sneaked in another attempt by complimenting my soft skin and trying to touch my hand again for confirmation. But I looked at him sternly and he withdrew. That kind of thing only bothers me when I'm not attracted to a guy. If I like a guy, I'm all for holding hands on a first date.

"I think you can tell I don't want you to touch me," I said snippily. (Kind of amazing he called for a second date.)

Maybe it's a good thing I'm not so instantly attracted to him. Maybe that's the only way I can make a relationship actually work out -- kind of a built-in protection against taking things too quickly.

I don't know if I'll ever develop an attraction to him. Then again, never say never. My friend Shuli called me after her fifth date with Avner and told me she could never be attracted to him. "He's so short. He's so slight," she sighed. (Shuli likes tall, beefy guys -- firemen in particular.)

They're expecting their third child in a few months.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Don't know what makes me feel sicker....

... the 1/3 of a lemon meringue pie I just ate, or the fact that I'm still flirting with my friend's ex-husband. Seasonal depression often causes a marked increase in appetite. The flirting, well, that's just the loneliness. Thank Gd they need me to come into work tomorrow to deal with a client emergency. I was planning on going in Thursday, but having something to do tomorrow, something that forces me completely out of myself and into expending all my energies to help others, will be therapeutic for me.

And I'm such a masochist. I poked the cute friend of a Facebook friend. And he poked me back. So I SuperPoked him. What on earth do I think is going to happen but ultimately more rejection?
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

The sun'll come out tomorrow

At least my light box will. I finally unpacked it and set it up near my bed. Interestingly, my bed is now inches higher than the nighttable upon which rests the lamp. Last time I used the lamp, it was on a level with my mattress. Just shows that I haven't used the box since before I got my new pillow-top bed in 2002. (It was supposed to cure my back pain. I won't say I'm cured, but it's a great bed.)

I'm hoping the light box will give me some more energy and interest in life. Right now I'm eating donuts and working halfheartedly on the paper for the course I took an Incomplete in. It's about 3/4 done, although at least 3/4 of it was scavenged from other papers I wrote for other classes. Recycling -- it's not just good for the planet, it's good for the student.

But I have to go into work a few days this week and next, I promised to take Malka to the Met (museum, not opera -- she's not that precocious), and New Year's Eve is coming up (sigh). Supposedly light boxes work within a week if they're going to work, so I'll give it about that.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Trying too hard

I came home from my date tonight and started listening to sad, slow songs. Mood music. There's nothing I can pinpoint wrong with the guy, and he really likes me and finds me beautiful -- but he's trying too hard to make me like him, and I'm trying too hard to like him. Both efforts are unlikely to have a successful outcome.

Every point I make, Captain Best Effort either had to agree with or top. I say I'm tired -- he's more tired. My job's demanding -- his is more demanding, and somebody just got fired and someone else got laid off, so he's doing the work of three people. But if we were talking politics and I disputed a point he made, somehow he'd find a way to agree with me.

He's also incredibly self-focused -- telling me in excruciating detail what he does and doesn't like. I, I, I, me, me, me. He must have told me 50 times that he doesn't like very skinny girls. Fine -- I don't approve of chubby guys who wear t-shirts saying 'No Fat Chicks,' so at least he's not a hypocrite. (Kind of goes without saying that I really don't find him attractive, although at this weight, I probably shouldn't be so picky.)

But at this point, I don't care so much about what he does and doesn't like, or what his opinion is on everything. And when he goes on and on about it, it seems very narcissistic. Like what he prefers is a matter of global importance. Bottom line: he's annoying.

I've been accused many a time of being too judgmental and dismissive of men I date. And all I can say is, I just can't marry a guy I find annoying. I don't think I should have to, and women who go into a marriage thinking their husband is annoying -- get divorced.

I've seen it happen. Several years ago an acquaintance of mine, a truly gorgeous redhead, got married at what to me seemed like the ancient age of 37 (now fast approaching, that age no longer seems so ancient to me).

The redhead had second thoughts. Lots of them -- way beyond cold feet. She was cold to her eyebrows. And I wondered if she was doing the right thing, especially since she made a point of telling me that her fiancé was annoying. "He's annoying. He just is," she said to me, three weeks before their wedding.

Their son was born less than a year later. They were divorced before he was two.

I've tried really, really hard to like several eligible men -- stable, grounded, at a good religious level, hardworking -- and ultimately couldn't do it because I thought they were weird. It's strange that I should have justify my desire to marry a normal guy, but there it is. I'd rather spent the rest of my life alone than annoyed. Or divorced.

But right now, I feel intensely alone. I was almost tempted to call Dog. Thank Gd for clonazepam.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, December 13, 2007

How can we clone her?

Gloria Chang, the recently reconnected old high school friend, sent me a note on Facebook:

BTW---I deduce from your profile that you are not married and quite possibly interested in changing that. Is that true? Do you want me to keep my eyes and ears open for you? There's not much of a Jewish community where I live --two synagogues in all of the county I live in and neither of them is Orthodox -- but I have ties to the greater (local urban) Jewish community through Bryn Mawr friends."

Wow -- a non-frum, non-Jewish married person who wants to help set me up! I wrote back:

Elementary, my dear Watson ;) Yes, I am indeed still single. It's so nice of you to offer to network for me! That so rarely happens. I'm a bit more religious than I was in high school, but if your Bryn Mawr friends know any guys from Chicago who keep kosher, I'd be interested in hearing more ;)

If there were more people like Gloria, there wouldn't be any singles crisis. My own sister can't be bothered to do this for me! (One of the many reasons I'm not so eager to get back on speaking terms with her.)
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

She just doesn't get it

I got an email from a longtime friend of mine. After updating me on her life, her kids, and her job, she had this to say:

I don't know how to approach this, so I am going to jump right in. An old friend of mine, with whom you corresponded briefly through (dating website) a few years ago, noticed your profile is still there. So Ezra contacted me and asked if you might be willing to give him another look.

Honestly, he is not gonna sweep you off your feet. And he definitely isn't a quick and easy thrill. But if you are willing to keep your britches on and not rush to judgment, he might be a good fit. He is bright, dry-witted, observant, and emotionally stable. He is serious about marriage and a family. (To refresh your memory, he is our age, divorced with three kids. His ex is a real piece of work, though, and I am sure the kids are a spoiled handful by this point). He is a good, honest, trust-worthy man, who earns a decent living, and isn't trying to hurt a soul. He asked what has been going on in your life, and I just said that it has been a rough couple of years, with grad school and some medical challenges.

I see on your blog how quickly you judge and reject the men who write you, and have no idea what you will think of Ezra. But if you are willing to give him another chance, let me know and I will pass that message along.

Ouch. This friend married her high school sweetheart, had a baby, divorced him, then married a great guy and had three more kids. So she hasn't had a whole lot of singlehood or dating time, even though she's been through some significantly difficult experiences. Still, they haven't been like my difficult dating experiences, which are a whole compendium of agony.

I waited until I felt calm, then wrote:

I've actually been corresponding with Ezra online, and he does seem like a nice guy. I got the sense he was interested in me, and I didn't dismiss that immediately. However, three kids is a lot to take on, on top of moving to a new city, where I have no friends or family and where I'd have to find a whole new set of doctors. And a difficult ex-wife in the bargain is also something to consider.

I'm actually quite hurt that you wrote, "I see on your blog how quickly you judge and reject the men who write you." For the record, I expect men who write to me to be polite and say a little something about why they're contacting me. That's not a lot to expect, and if they can't do that, even briefly -- even worse, if they react with hostility -- it's not a good sign. There's a definite etiquette to internet dating, and people who can't follow it usually don't have really functional social skills in the offline world. I say this not because I'm a psychologist but because of years of bitter experience, dating men who really shouldn't be let out of the house.

Women who date scores of men develop a sense of who's worth getting to know and who isn't. For years I went on dates that I suspected would not lead to anything, and most of them turned into dates from hell. Not because I wasn't being nice and wasn't trying to get to know them and be a good companion, but because there was something seriously wrong with them.

You don't have a lot of dating experience, so I suggest you think before judging us battle-scarred veterans of the dating wars. I try to keep an open mind about meeting men, but when they're rude and borderline illiterate upfront, and come with a ton of baggage (not that I don't have some of my own), I'm wary of trying to get to know them, because I don't think it will work out. Please trust me when I say that I tried, and tried, and TRIED in the past to work on getting to know some of these terrifying guys, and all it got me was misery and indigestion.

I realize that I should have pointed out that I'm not looking for a quick and easy thrill, nor to be swept off my feet, but she's started reading my blog again, so I hope she'll get the message. Perhaps it's implicit amid my measured and reasonable response.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Still down

You'd think from the volume of new posts on here that I was over this latest depression. But not quite. I should be at an end-of-the-semester school party, watching my professors sing karaoke. I even bought a ticket. It's just a few blocks from my apartment.

But the sun sets and so do I, these days. I'm just not in the mood to get up and go anywhere.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

My best friend's husband

College friend of mine, Dafna, with whom I'm in intermittent contact, is getting divorced. Two small kids. She and her soon-to-be-ex are Facebook friends of mine. He and I have been playing Scrabulous and exchanging emails, especially late at night when neither of us can sleep. I thought it was just some innocent fun.

Men are dogs.

Dog: What are you doing up so late?

Ayelet: Brooding about my lack of social life.

D: I wish I could help but I simply do not know any single jewish guys ... much less eligible, quality ones.

A: and you call yourself a lawyer? ;)

D: i don't call myself a lawyer anymore. i am no longer practicing law. i am a management consultant now. the only single, jewish guys I know are under 24 years old and waaaay immature.

A: Good for you for getting into a better game -- hope Dafna is rooking you for lots of alimony ;P

I realized that was a risk, but hey, life's a risk. (And I was bored.)

D: it is a good thing i know you well enough to take that the way you meant it

A: hey, I'm edgy when I'm not punchy, and right now I'm pretty punchy

(It was late.)

D: sounds like you need to release some tension

I could have nipped this in the bud. But do I ever pick the sensible alternative?

A: I'm celibate and in grad school, of course I do

D: so ... what do you do about that?

Last chance to keep this from getting naughty...

A: use a lot of AA batteries

Too late.

D: i hear that. i guess it is better than nothing. some women don't ... and that makes no sense to me whatsoever.

you know ... i am kind of in the same boat ... although i don't have to spend any money on batteries

Why do I do this to myself? How do I get out of it?

A: yeah, it's easier for men

D: i don't know ... i think it is a lot more interesting for women. there is more to do ... more variety... and less mess ;)

I didn't see that because I went to sleep. The next morning, I found that and

D: I hope i didn't scare you off ...

A: no -- I finally got sleepy

Okay -- time to back it up. I'll respond to his messages, but no more flirting. He's a hard-up divorced guy, who was separated but sharing living quarters with his ex for more than two years before finally moving out. It's not such a compliment to be chased by him.

D: So... when does the semester end for you?

A: Tomorrow!

D: I am sure it is a HUGE relief. Do you have any exciting plans for after you finish?

I really shouldn't. What the hell...

A: Not really. I might get a massage.

D: Sounds like a great idea. From reading your status messages it is clear that you have been really breaking your back with work this semester.

Hm. He didn't exactly take the bait.

A: har har... yeah, kinda

D: I was being serious! You seem to be working all of the time... including late at night.

A: Actually, I'm mostly playing Scrabulous.

D: Did you move yet in our game? ;)

A: I'll get to it. (You really have nothing better to do?)

D:I am just a guy who hasn't gotten any in quite some time! ;)


(Okay -- I had to edit out a section that would have made for a better transition, but trust me -- that's what he wrote.) I really should put a stop to this... but it's fun getting some attention from a guy who thinks I'm sexy....

A: I hear you, bro. (I'd say "I feel you" the way kids do these days, but in your state of mind that could be misinterpreted.)

D: Hey ... I am not the one burning through the AA batteries!

A: that's right -- you've just got carpal tunnel syndrome

D: and chafing :(

(Okay, that was a bit much.)

A: dude -- TMI!

D: Sorry ... I thought it followed with the carpal tunnel comment. Please excuse my lapse in judgment.

A: fine line ;) hee hee... you're funny when you're sheepish

D: Well, like most guys, any time the conversation gets even close to sex ... BAAAd things can happen. ;)

A: sad how this conversation is the closest I've gotten to getting any in so long...

D: Are you getting turned on?

That was quick. And blunt.

A: These days, it's more like, "Am I ever turned off?"

Honesty is the best policy, right?

D: Heh. I know EXACTLY what you mean. Well, if you ever get tired of running through those batteries...

A: Dude, you're my friend's ex-husband! That's, like, WRONG.

D: If you say so.

Ooh... naughty.

A: You must be pretty hard up ;)

D: For a creative, open-minded and fun partner? I guess I am.

I am on my way out to a concert. Have a good night.

I'm sure many of you, dear readers, are disappointed in me. But I can't describe how hard it is living an asexual life, feeling like an undesirable amid a sea of gorgeous women. Even though he hasn't seen me in years, and might not find me attractive now (doable is another thing; men have two sets of standards), I like being flirted with. It's the most positive male attention I haven't gotten from a good (and hence biased) friend in a long time.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Too close to home

We talked about suicide in class today, and I had to walk out.

One of the questions in our take-home clinical practice final was about suicide assessment, and we started discussing what questions to ask a person you suspect might be considering suicide. People were speculating about what goes through a person's head before they make a suicidal gesture, how some attempts aren't meant to be fatal but end up that way, how some people were found and saved just in time, and of course the big "Why?" that so many people are hit with after surviving an unsuccessful attempt.

I tried to stay composed, but I started to cry. It brought back too many memories. "Ayelet, do you need to leave the room?" asked the professor. I fled.

It was so hard not to talk about my own experience and miraculous recovery. So many of the people in the hospital with me didn't know why they'd taken an overdose. At the time, neither did I. Fortunately, Jerry's in the class and we commiserated afterward.

I've been thinking about my hospital experiences lately -- in the ICU after I woke up and on the psych ward. I think part of the reason I started this blog was to talk about those experiences, because they were so truly fundamental to who I am and yet I can't discuss them with the majority of people who know me.

Sometimes I identify more with my clients than with my fellow social workers, but I'm reluctant to disclose my diagnosis and experiences to Melanie. She's been saying I need to put more of my thoughts and feelings into my process recordings -- and I'm afraid to. How can I just "start" to describe my anxiety or insecurity or confusion and not talk about the underlying factors? I've been holding back -- apparently too much.

But in my last process recording, I self-disclosed a little more. While I was co-leading the IDDT group,

we started to discuss "using more of a substance than planned," which is a marker for addiction. I asked one client, who I knew was in IDDT because of his eating issues, if that was ever a problem with him and, say, cookies (the snacks that the other group leader had brought, rich chocolate/raspberry covered butter cookies, had vanished quite fast, and he seemed to be the primary consumer of them). He agreed that it was.

I told him I had a similar problem—“I think I’m going to have just one of those Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches, and before I know it, how did four of them get gone?” Everyone laughed, and I wondered why I’d said that. “What’s the therapeutic value?” I asked myself. “Why am I singling him out? Is he going to think I’m blaming him for eating all the cookies?”

I also wrote about the way I kind of hijacked the IDDT group:

I asked the IDDT co-leader how he thought the group went, and he said he thought it went well. However, I asked him in front of my supervisor, not privately, so he might not have wanted to acknowledge that he was annoyed with me hijacking the group—not wanted to make me look bad in front of her. Then again, I tend to overestimate how poorly people view my professional behavior—I was a little suspicious of the constant praise the program director gave my performance and suggested that my supervisor find out what the director “really” thought. My supervisor was pretty sure the director “really” thought I was doing a good job.

It will be interesting to see Melanie's reaction to all this self-disclosure. Hopefully her feedback will help me readjust my boundaries. (Not that I think my boundaries are as loose as the nutjobs at The Bad Place assumed they were -- but it could provide some useful perspective, a counterbalance to their delusional input.)

Today I also heard from Ruth, my fellow classmate and future fellow Jew, that Frau Know-it-All is miserable at The Other Bad Place. Her supervisor, one of the evil bad social workers there, is treating her harshly.

I can't tell you how much schadenfreude is warming my heart. They so richly deserve each other, and I really dodged a bullet.

I'm a little annoyed with Celeste, though, and it's completely not her fault. She told me today that her husband had to talk her into marrying him.

?????

"You didn't want to get married?" I asked.

"I'd always been single, you know, and I wasn't so sure I was ready for that kind of commitment," she said. "I didn't even want to admit to myself that we were dating, for a really long time."

Argh. She didn't even want to get married -- but she did! I'm dying to get married and... well, you know the rest of that sad tale.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The less I wear, the better I look

"You look so cute, Ayelet!" my classmate said in the computer lab, as we waited for our documents to print out.

"I don't always dress like a 40-year-old librarian," I joked.

Today I wore a "little black dress" -- the kind you buy two of so it will last forever. It's fitted me better in the past; it exposes several inches of my thighs, which are more conical than cylindrical these days (Jerusha thinks it looks terrible on me now) -- but I didn't feel like fussing this morning. I threw on the dress, a pair of kicky tights, dangly pearl earrings, a foundation garment -- something between control-top pantyhose and a girdle, biting viciously into my waist by day's end -- and went.

I would have discounted her remarks, but I also got compliments from three men in my program.

"You look really nice today," said Jerry.

"I should wear short skirts more often," I snarked.

"No -- it's your face," he said. "It's nice to see you smiling. You're glowing."

I guess I've got that end-of-semester glow -- along with some end-of-semester pimples and end-of-semester bitten nails and ragged cuticles. Nice to know I still look a'ight.

Also, another classmate asked me for guidance about a very poorly-defined assignment. I don't know why she thought I would understand it better than she did -- I must give off a real air of confidence and competence. It somehow meant even more to me that she's really, really beautiful, and yet she was seeking my input.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, December 10, 2007

Not really sure how to take this

I got a message from a Swedish guy on a dating website (no joke; he's a convert):

I'm curios about you. I especially like tha part of "treating people well whether they're delivering food or closing a business deal.".

[That's a direct quote from my profile -- derech eretz is important to me.]

On the other hand - calling myself easygoing would be a blatant lie. And calling yourself easygoing seems strange. You post a lot on the Forum and it is allways to correct and judge other people - explaining to some poor bloke that he is to old, expresses himself in an unattractive manner or in any other way breakes decorum. And I agree, many people do.

But might the same frustration of loneliness that causes some dude to write a moronic diatribe of how women are too "picky" or too "uopn their high horses" be your reaon for only posting critique? Do you ever pause to see that this moron may just be very, very lonely? That he actually could be someones beshert? Just like you, even though the only thing that comes through in your postings is anger and judgement and frustration?

Loneliness wears down on all of us, especially us who are in an age where it is sort of "past time" we start a family and have kids of our own (and grandkids for our parents). And it might ne easier for men, but most men want to be able to play with their kids and see the leave home. And I think we should be more compassionate with eachother about it. I think maybe you should try matching your postings to your very nice profile.

OK, sorry about the sermon, just a thouhjt. Good luck finding your beshert and may you have many children.

Chanukah Sameach!

For the record, I've never described myself as easygoing, although I do say I seek that quality in a mate.

Copyright (c) "Ayelet Shachar"

More fresh hell

Can't sleep, so I'm playing Scrabulous and reading through the past few posts.

I've written to a few new guys on that darn dating website -- I can't seem to stop myself from doing that -- and I forgot completely that I was waiting for a response from Logophile just a week ago.

Hm. Out of sight, out of mind, I guess.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Easy to see why HE's still single

So last night Shimona was drinking Scotch, then bemoaning how little buzzed she was.

"Eating tuna salad and egg salad and Israeli salad is a buzzkill," I told her. "But I didn't know you drink Scotch."

"I love Scotch," said Shimona.

A memory flashed in my mind: A tall, sweet, cute guy toasting me at a kiddush. "Here's to real women who drink real liquor!" We were both drinking Scotch.

His name is, let's say, Mudd. He's intelligent, nice, cute, modern orthodox, and tall. Shimona is intelligent, nice, adorable, modern orthodox, and tall. I should set them up!!! Right?

Wrong. I emailed him this morning:

Do you know a girl named Shimona Berger?

He responded:

I hope you are having a nice holiday. Yes, from a while back.

Is this a love connection?

I'd enjoy the holiday more if it didn't overlap with finals ;) But I went to a (insert name of hip, orthodox Jewish musician) concert last night, so I celebrated a little. I went with Shimona, and I thought of you because she is intelligent, tall, very attractive, and loves Scotch. And I know you love women who drink real liquor ;)

How could he resist, with that buildup? Alas, all too intrepidly.

Hi, I was at the other concert in Webster Hall. (Hip, orthodox Jewish musician) is decent and it sounds like you had a nice time.

I appreciate you thinking of me. Talk to you soon!

Ouch. I felt even worse because I'd gotten Shimona's hopes up. It's not often she learns about a tall, cute, smart, normal orthodox guy under 40 that she hasn't already dated. (To her credit, when I asked her if she knew him, she immediately asked, "Why isn't he married?")

Shimona emailed me tonight asking what Mudd's response was, and I wrote back:

He is nothing what I told you. He is a big dumb jerk. I told him you were a beautiful tall intelligent woman who loves Scotch, and he said he met you years ago and was very noncommittal. I am not going to set him up again. He doesn't deserve to reproduce. Or ever have sex.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

How'd he get married the first time?

AKA, "I can see why he's divorced." So this guy wrote to me last night on a dating site:

Subject: have we ....:-)
shavua tov have we spoken before ? if not ...should we ?;-)

That's not giving me much to go on, which I tried to express in my response. He shot back:

how much more you need ?;-)

I don't know, anything? Before I could write back he sent another charming missive:

Subject: btw - :-)
ive tried every pass word i know of and none of 'em worked....care to share ? ;-) and i'll be able to tell y' if we have spoken before or not ! ;-)

Sigh. I went to the concert and tried not to think about this clod. This morning I woke up to:

Subject: welll....;-)
i guess you decided you didnt really want to know more or share more about you ? :-)

Well, you haven't really induced that desire in me, Clod, and I do have a life, you know.

You decided the same thing. You haven't told me a single thing about yourself, or a single thing you liked about my profile. I'm not inclined to take you seriously.

Like a guy, Clod continues to place the blame on me:

woe-..... pretty sassy, aren't u .;-) 1) i ask to view your photo - no response to the request 2) i ask you what you wanted to know concerning me - again no response ...so.....how about i view your photo --- and you tell me what more you want to know about me and i'll be happy to answer- ...as far as what i liked about your profile .....all of it ! or i wouldnt have contacted you in the first place! ;-) enough is in your profile that if you are remotely attractive to me in your photo as you are in your profile then i would be ready to talk , meet and see if personalities in person match as well....and go from there- yes i read your whole profile ! ;-)

I don't need this. It's not like a guy with an associates degree and children from a previous marriage is all that attractive to me to start with -- but I don't need someone this defensive. And calling me "remotely attractive"? What woman in her right mind would give this guy a chance after hearing that?

People ask me why I'm still single. This guy is Exhibit A. So I sent him a "thanks but no thanks" form email:

Hi Clod, I read your profile, but I did not think we would make a good match. Much success in your continued efforts.

He wrote back:

I read your response , but i dont think we would make a good match . You will find yours in your continued search !

Men always like to have the last word, even if it's completely incoherent. I think I'll give him that.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Making the effort

I spent another hermit Shabbat, staying in and mostly sleeping. So I forced myself to go to a Chanuka concert with Shimona Saturday night. I didn't want to go -- it seemed a little pricey for what we'd be getting -- but I thought it would be important to get dressed up and interact with other people in public.

It wasn't bad. Very crowded, but that didn't provoke any high anxiety. The food was pretty awful -- evidence of mold on my theoretical second sufgania made me regret the first even more (at least it made me throw the second away).

Shimona is, if anything, even more bitter about being single than I am. Which is strange, since she's a good five years younger than I am. She has younger married siblings, which I guess is worse than having bossy older married siblings. Shimona kept reminding me that we weren't there to meet men, we were there to enjoy the music. I, on the other hand, am incapable of getting dressed up and going out without surveying the crowd for potential.

"How young do you think that guy is, in the striped sweater?" I asked her.

"I don't know -- late 20s, maybe? What is it with you and guys in their twenties?" she asked.

"I can't help it if they desire me," I said lightly, ironically. "I'm a cougar," I laughed. "Sometimes I look at high school boys and think, 'I'd like to hit that.'"

"Ewwwwwwwwwwww!" said Shimona. "You were a woman before they were born!"

"That's the idea," I said. But I was bluffing. These days, I'm not so confident in my cougar predatory skills. I'm an old, fat, wannabe cougar. There was a guy there that, if I were thin, I might have introduced myself to. But these days I'm reeling with rejection. Too many messages ignored on online dating sites. Too many clothes outgrown. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained" has become "Nothing ventured, nothing lost."
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Why Professor Fun likes me so much

Her dog's name is "Ayelet." No joke. A student in class asked her what her views were on medical experiments performed on animals (we were discussing the bleak history of medical experiments on people, which for centuries were carried out on slaves, prisoners, and impoverished African Americans), and she said, "On the one hand, I believe that medical advances save human lives. On the other... My dog Ayelet is like the daughter I never had. She's the only other female in the house; she's more spoiled than my sons are."

Countertransference. It's powerful.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Where the hell is Marcy, NY?

Apparently it's the site of one of the 27 prisons built in Upstate New York over the past decade. (Prisons are just about the only industry Upstate has left.) Someone sent me a job posting for a position there:

New York State Office of Mental Health is seeking a qualified candidate for a Psychology Assistant 3 to assist in the Evaluation Research of Mental Health Treatment programs for patients in the New York State prison system. The position is located at Central NY Psychiatric Center, a forensic psychiatric hospital in Marcy, New York. The candidate must be able to write well, understand research design and statistics. Journal publications are anticipated. Minimum qualifications: Master’s degree in psychology in one of the following disciplines: clinical, community, counseling, developmental, gerontological, neuro, rehabilitation, school, or social. Career ladder, excellent New York State benefit and retirement package. Salary range: $40,424-$55,954. Please send résumé and writing sample to:

Hm. I could do worse. I'm a good writer. With two master's degrees I could probably demand the $56K salary, and although I don't really enjoy research, I'm pretty good at it. I've already published a journal article, and I'm in the process of editing another paper for submission. Working in a prison might be interesting. I'd definitely be the prettiest one in the room.

The question is, do I move from the center of the orthodox Jewish single universe to Nowheresville? Why not? I've given the Upper West Side more than a decade and all of my girlish hopes, dreams, and aspirations. Maybe I should just focus on my career -- and if I'm going to do that, Marcy, NY, would be a pretty good career move.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Shmanuka

I had a cute conversation in the computer lab today with my fellow student Ruth, who's taking conversion classes with my rabbi. She didn't know Chanuka was all about miracles, and found that thrilling. She made her boyfriend buy an oil menorah so they could light authentically.

There aren't enough lemons in the world to make me appreciate the miracle of Chanuka this year. I'm too lonely and hopeless. None of the men I write to on dating sites even acknowledge my contact. My skin is aging, and my girth is broadening. In a few years I'll be that pitiful woman I saw in the supermarket just over a year ago, buying pet food and day-old danish.

When I'm in this state of mind, in this bad a mood, I can't pray. Because the deafening silence of Gd's response to my pain is too devastating. Despair kills faith.

I dropped out of my shidduch tehillim group -- a bunch of women dividing up the Book of Psalms and each saying about 10 of them each week, so the book is completed each week. It's supposed to help us find our zivug. Right now, I have no capacity to repeat David's magnificent poetry in praise of Gd -- even though David often wrote from the black pit of despair wherein I sit.

I should have lit a candle tonight. But candles won't lighten my darkness. So I didn't bother.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, December 03, 2007

Go suck a lemon

One of the skills taught in Dialectical Behavior Therapy is distress tolerance (pretty self-explanatory). To get you through the night, their literature suggests distracting yourself through a strong sensation, like holding an ice cube, taking a hot shower, snapping a rubber band on your wrist, or sucking a lemon.

Well, recently FreshDirect delivered 5 lemons to me instead of 5 grapefruits. So last night I decided to try sucking on a lemon to relieve my anxiety over school and spinsterdom.

It was interesting. Not really pleasant, but not too aversive. I could feel the corners of my mouth twist up in a grin/grimace (grinace?). And it did distract me, a little. But not enough. I laughed a little, mainly because it seemed so ridiculous.

This is post #360. Maybe I'll do a 360 out of this crummy mood.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Mastery and competence

PowerPoint presentations are an integral element of marketing and P.R. At my last job, I got a lot of PowerPoint training and created an average of two presentations per week. I'm very, very good at PowerPoint.

Recently I decided to try to increase my sense of mastery and competence by doing things I'm good at, which is supposed to alleviate depression. So I made a PowerPoint, based on the independent study I worked on last summer. I don't know that I'll ever actually use the PowerPoint, but while I was making it I definitely felt happier.

The good feeling didn't last too long, unfortunately. I volunteered to proof a friend's PowerPoint (she's making a presentation to a NYC agency official), and then worked on another friend's for a class we have in common, but neither task took me very long. I guess I'm just that good at PowerPoint. I'll have to find ways to make more presentations, even if I never use them. It does seem to help a little.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, December 01, 2007

I wonder if she wonders

Sometimes Melanie is very open and transparent with me, and sometimes she puts on her psychoanalyst face and I have no idea what she's thinking. It's kind of annoying, but it's probably pretty appropriate.

I wonder if she wonders what's wrong with me. I once mentioned something my psychiatrist said -- can't remember what the context was, and I'm not sure why I disclosed that, except that I like the important people in my life to know about what I struggle with. After the panel discussion I organized, when I discussed having bipolar with Claudia and Professor Supportive, it felt weird that I hadn't told Professor Fun about my disorder.

Sometimes I feel like I have more in common with the clients than the social workers. When Melanie told me about a client who is diagnosed with depression and didn't take out her garbage for months on end, I could completely relate. Taking out the garbage is hard for me, too, since I have to go downstairs and put it in the containers in front of the building -- I can't just go down the hall and drop it in a chute.

Another client, who also often gets depressed, bought 6 carrot cakes and ate four of them at one sitting.

"Four whole carrot cakes?" asked another worker.

"No, the miniature Entenmann's cakes," said my supervisor. "But it's still disgusting."

I've committed that disgusting eating pattern (with other kinds of cake, though; I hate carrot cake).

Also, I confided in Melanie, during the Thanksgiving lunch the agency held for the clients, that being around so many people made me a little nervous and was hard for me, which is why I was hiding in the back frantically plating food, instead of mingling with the 25+ clients who showed up for turkey and the trimmings. She condoled with me, saying that being in a crowded room of people you don't really know is very stressful.

But there have been other times I've conceded some anxiety, and she's looked neutrally sympathetic, and I can't tell what she's thinking. She recently increased my responsibilities and gave me some more direction than usual, and when she asked me what I thought about that, I told her that an increase in responsibility usually makes a person a little anxious. She agreed, but didn't say much.

Then on Friday I brought in three red peppers for lunch. I ordered from FreshDirect, and instead of ordering my usual six I accidentally duplicated, so they delivered 12. That's fine, I love red peppers, but they don't keep long, so I brought some in for lunch. I had a granola bar and three red peppers. And I got some inquiring looks.

"I've never seen anyone eat a red pepper like that," said another worker, as I sliced and seeded them. "Like an apple or something."

"I have to eat them before they go bad. Besides, I love fruit and vegetables, I eat them a lot. I eat in strange patterns. I can eat half a watermelon, and that's dinner," I said.

Odd looks all around. Oh, no, I've said too much... Crap.

So I wonder what Melanie thinks is wrong with me. I'm guessing obsessive-compulsive disorder. Strange rituals and patterns, lots of anxiety. Near-expert knowledge of psychopharmacology, as though I've been taking medication for years.

We also talked about how difficult it is for me to write process recordings when I worry that I'm leaving out something important. People with OCD are perfectionists. And if she saw my apartment, with all the recylables piled up and the books and papers everywhere, she'd certainly think I was a hoarder.

Or I could be completely self-conscious, and she doesn't suspect a thing. We do have fun, jokey, collegial times together. On Thursday evening, one of the male social workers, Jared, was trying to send me an email and kept misspelling my last name, which is part of my agency email address.

"What are you sending her, Jared -- a love letter?" asked Melanie.

I looked at her and raised my eyebrows.

"He seems so intent on sending it, not saying it in front of me," she clarified.

"I wouldn't have an office affair with Jared," I joked. "He's not my task master -- Eric is my task master." (Task master is the title for the person who supervises the student when the supervisor is unavailable; Eric is the other male social worker.) "I'd have an affair with my Task Master. That would put a nice S&M spin on things."

And we all laughed.

Melanie and I also both love the sugar cookies with frosting that the program director imports from New Jersey.

"You're going to get diabetes if you eat too many of those," warned Jared, as she and I bit in.

"You're going to get high cholesterol and have a heart attack and die if you keep eating those pork specials from that Cuban restaurant," I retorted. (He eats that during many team meetings, since he's usually visiting clients during lunchtime, and he's always shaking hot sauce or pouring beans on piles of pork and rice.)

"I agree," said Melanie. She thinks his pork specials are really gross; she's a semi-vegetarian.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"