Monday, March 31, 2008

Smelling my way out of a bad mood

I was in a terrible mood all day. Angry, angry, angry. After being stood up last night, I was fried.

I don't think it affected my professional demeanor or performance. I was completely there for my clients, dealt with a few crises in Melanie's absence, co-facilitated a group, and had an individual therapy session with a client who's even angrier than I am, probably with better reason.

I even managed to crack a few jokes with two of my co-workers about how my hair, and my booty, aren't really "white-girl" hair and booty. One's Latina, one's African-American, and the three of us struggle with weight and frizz (Melanie and Sally are skinny; Julie's tall and slender; the male social workers and psychiatrist are average-weight to skinny). Hey sista, go sista, soul sista....

But my anger lurked beneath the surface and emerged as soon as I left the office. I fumed the whole train ride home. I also had to wait at the pharmacy for more than half an hour because of course I forgot to drop off my prescriptions this morning. Some stupid 10-year-old girl kept playing a tinkly, repetitive melody on an electronic device. I kept glaring at her like I wanted to swat her across the store.

Anyway, I got home, angry and exhausted, to an order I placed during one of my 3 a.m. vigils. I had decided to try a natural approach to boost my mood and ordered some aromatherapy essential oils. Thought I ordered geranium and rose, ended up with jasmine and rose. No matter; all three are supposed to lift depression. So I dropped some in my diffuser and am waiting to feel less furious.

But probably tonight was not the best night to have organic frozen chili for dinner, though. Right now all I smell are beans, onions, and tomato. I'll have to have something blander for dinner tomorrow.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A DIB is worse than a neb

Originally I made plans to go out with the DIB (stands either for "dear Israeli brother" or, more commonly, "dumb Israeli bastard") on Tuesday, forgot I had an event, and asked him, days in advance, to reschedule. He called during the lecture, and I was a bit short with him, but I called back and we made plans to go out to dinner tonight.

The DIB didn't call today to confirm (unlike the Neb, who did try). I had a sinking feeling the DIB was going to stand me up, but I got ready anyway. I called him -- it rang, then went to voicemail. I paged him. No response.

Then, at 8 p.m., when we were supposed to be meeting at the restaurant, I logged onto the dating site where we met and saw him cruising. I sent him an IM:

didn't we have a date tonight?

which he ignored, so I sent another:

never mind

and blocked him. If he wants to call and beg my forgiveness he still has my phone number, but I'm not holding my breath.

I'm so fucking sick of dating. Forget about trying to get any more work done today -- not to mention all the wasted time making myself pretty. What a fucking DIB.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Ayelet's Law

The more a man annoys you, the harder he will try to get a second date.

Poor Neb. He tried so hard. He wore a sports coat and dress shirt. He brought Pepperidge Farm cookies to Starbucks so we'd have something to nosh on. He said I was prettier than my photo. He complimented my outfit and my jewelry. He suggested a romantic stroll through Central Park on this beautiful, sunny day. He asked when he could see me again.

"Why don't you give me a call," I said, sighing inwardly. Because he also interrupted me constantly. There is little you can do to annoy me more than interrupt me repeatedly. It's disrespectful, distracting, and extremely irritating.

He also needed his reading glasses to see who the incoming call on his cell phone was from, reminding me of the age difference. And why did he leave his phone on? He's not a doctor or EMT; he used to sell computers before deciding a master's in teaching was the easiest way to go, better than physical or speech therapy. Ambitious.

Above all, he was boring. I realize I run the risk of sounding overly picky, but I couldn't stand to spend another minute with him. I'd rather be alone than married to someone who made me want to pull out all of my hair all of the time. After the disastrous second date with Captain Best Effort, I vowed I would not force myself to date men who annoyed me. I'm not that desperate.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Don't ask, don't tell?

A Jewish woman who has sexual relations with a non-Jew, also known as an "isha zona" or "whore," is proscribed from marrying a Cohen, a member of the priestly caste. When the Temple was standing in Jerusalem, a Cohen offered up sacrifices and had many other duties. Today, a Cohen's primary responsibilities are to bless the congregation during certain holidays and to be called first for aliyot or to lead benching. It's basically a symbolic honor.

And it's a whole class of guys I can't date -- during my manic days, I slept with more than one non-Jew. Even some who weren't circumcised, which is especially bad. I've come to my senses, of course, and I don't do this anymore, but it's too late.

Or is it? I've heard some opinions that a woman who is an isha zona should just not tell Cohanim about her status, and date and marry him anyway. I'm too embarrassed to ask my rabbi, but I'm wondering if I should start making inquiries through other channels. It didn't work for the U.S. armed forces, but could "don't ask, don't tell" help me find a husband?
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, March 29, 2008

My new name

"I have a new name for you, Ayelet!" said Jackleen, one of the clients I rarely work with, as I trudged into the office.

"What would that be?" I asked, smiling dutifully at her and more spontaneously at Elizabeth, a client I adore for reasons I don't quite understand.

Psychoanalysts label clinicians' feelings about their clients "countertransference." It can be positive or negative, and apparently it's based on whom the patient reminds you of. It can't just be how you feel about them for who they are; in analysis, nothing is ever that obvious.

As far as Elizabeth and I are concerned, though, it's a mystery. I racked my brains, and I really can't think of anyone she reminds me of. I see her every day when she comes in for medication, and we chat, and I just love her. And of course she loves me -- I'm not her caseworker, and I never try to make her do anything she doesn't want to do. She's joining a group that I co-lead, however, which involves regular homework assignments, so her feelings about me may well change.

But Jackleen doesn't really know me all that well. She's not on my caseload or Melanie's, and she's not one of the additional clients I've taken on for individual or group work. I've only seen her at a few events. So I was curious that she felt she knew me well enough to nickname me.

Also, I was in a rotten mood. I'd spent 40 minutes shivering outside the Bronx Criminal Courthouse, waiting for a client to meet me there to pay a misdemeanor fine. It was raining, so I huddled under the small overhang with a couple of chain-smokers, inhaling enough secondhand smoke to give cancer to 50 social workers. My knees didn't appreciate the cold or the standing around, and I didn't appreciate being stood up. I got on the train to go to the office and it went way past my usual stop, so I had to get off and transfer to a train going the other way.

So most of the morning had been completely shot, and I was open to any form of amusement or distraction. Jackleen has a strong and quirky personality, so I figured any name she gave me would at the very least be interesting.

"'Bubbly'," she said. "Cause every time I see you, you're smiling."

(You don't see me much, do you?)

"That's true," said Elizabeth. "Every time I see you, you smile."

"Of course I smile when I see you guys," I said. "I'm always happy to see you!"

And that made team meeting and the rest of the day a little more bearable.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Too much like me

SN messaged me on an online dating site a long while back. (No cutting nickname -- he hasn't earned it.) We IMed but it didn't seem to go anywhere. Tonight he messaged me again, out of the blue. After exchanging pleasantries and telling me he's moved to New Jersey from Brooklyn, he asked:

SN: what do you plan to do after graduation
Ayelet: hoping to get a job
SN: good luck
A: thanks
SN: do you know in what area you'd like to focus
A: preferably adults with dual diagnoses or severe and persistent mental illness
SN: ouch
SN: why not child social work or family work, something light?
A: working with children is too hard
SN: really?
A: and why shouldn't I do something rigorous?
A: because I'm a girl?
SN: i worked with kids for a while part-time at night; it's tough
SN: no, it has nothing to do with rigor or gender, it has everything to do with risk
A: risk can be assessed
SN: ur brave
A: or foolhardy ;)
SN: i worked in the adult inpatient unit in college tough work
A: I'm pretty tough
SN: i'm a push over
SN: do u think that would be a match?

Not a surprising question; I assumed he had changed his mind, since he was re-contacting me.

A: an assertive woman and a gentle guy?
A: could work
A: but I seem to remember you didn't think we were a match
SN: it didn't work for me last year
A: what has changed?
SN: i'm not sure. i remember our correspondence do u?
A: not really
SN: well, i had some hesitations about my eligibility

As in, no longer an eligible bachelor?

SN: don't worry i'm still single
A: your eligibility?
SN: well, in addition to working in the field, i also have my time on the other side of the couch

Ah. That could be a problem.

A: what were u treated for?
SN: depression
A: that's tough to live with

I should know.

SN: i think it's only fair for me to be upfront
A: I agree

All mental illness has both a genetic and an environmental component. If he and I created children together, they'd be at a much higher risk for experiencing depression -- especially if he has a family history of the disorder.

A: does anyone else in your family have the disorder?
SN: thanks for asking
A: ?
SN: brother did as a teen
A: did you guys have a difficult childhood?

Trying to tease out the various contributing factors. Two siblings who have the same illness could have inherited it from their parents in their DNA, or developed it by living in the same dysfunctional environment.

SN: tough question...
A: yeah, IM isn't well-suited to a clinical interview
SN: lol
A: is that one of the reasons you exercise so assiduously?

In his profile, he lists "exercising at gym 4-5 days per week" as one of his interests. Although he looks kind of pudgy in his photos. (Not that I should talk, but I don't claim to be a gym rat.)

SN: i don't anymore actually
A: aha
SN: i wrote that last fall, and have tapered it back being that i've been feeling well
A: ok
SN: i should get going in 10 minutes b/c the coffee shop closes then
A: wow, Jersey's pretty tame
SN: nice and quiet suburbia
A: bo-ring
SN: i like being near the city but being able to visit more than live there
A: gotcha
SN: pause...

Don't pause. I don't want to make a move.

SN: i like the parks and hiking trails by me, plus the lakes and rivers
SN: i can't wait for the outdoor and water sports to start up again
A: it's funny -- when I'm in the great outdoors, I like it, but when I'm not , I don't miss it
SN: so they're sweeping up the floors here
A: u better bounce

I'm not good at playing dumb.

SN: if you'd like to IM more on sunday, i'd like that--
A: sorry, busy all day Sunday

Actually true. I've got two dates and a towering heap of homework. But it would be unkind to leave him hanging. Still, I don't want to tell him my whole life story....

A: and also, I've been treated for an episode of clinical depression
A: so it would be pretty irresponsible for me to get involved with you
SN: i understand
A: hatzlacha
SN: i wish you all the best and it was nice chatting with you
A: ditto
*** SN's IM window is closed

Sigh. It would be nice if the men who contacted me online didn't share my diagnosis. I can't have children with someone who's too much like me, and with my mental health history, I don't know if I'd be able to adopt.

But it's good to know that SN is resilient.

*** SN's IM window is open
SN: hi sarah
A: ?
*** SN's IM window is closed

See? He's already moved on ;)
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Facebook fiend

Have I mentioned how tired (no pun intended) I am of terminal insomnia?

My friend Shimona recently received a friend request from a woman she didn't know -- on Facebook or in real life. She has a cousin with the same (English) name, so she responded thusly:

do we know each other? I really don't recognize you... perhaps you know my cousin from Teaneck?

This was the illiterate and fiendish reply:

I'm business networking I own a sheitel co. So I'm friending women that might wear wigs or will wear wigs one day.=)

Could you be any less sensitive to a single frum woman? Shimona doesn't need to be reminded that she's not married yet! After cursing for about 20 minutes, Shimona called me for support. I felt her pain. Acutely.

"What a stupid, stupid thing to do," I said. "And it's an ayin hara. Frum people don't buy baby furniture before the baby's born -- just in case. Why would we buy something that's only for married women before we even have a boyfriend?"

"Should I tell her that?" asked Shimona.

"Tell her that what she did was like Penina taunting Chana, shoving her children in Chana's face and mocking Chana's childlessness," I said. "Except Penina had a higher purpose -- she was trying to encourage Chana to pray harder for the blessing of children. This solicitation had no such higher purpose.

"And you should report her to Facebook," I continued. "I don't think she'd comprehend the term 'boundary violation,' but she'd probably understand 'abuse' or 'inappropriate.' Then again, 'inappropriate' has more than two syllables, which might throw her."

After she stopped laughing, Shimona sent the Facebook powers that be this message:

To Whom It May Concern,

I am not sure if this qualifies as abuse, but this woman, who I do not know (we have a few friends in common) tried to "friend" me today in order to solicit FUTURE business. You can see this from the content of her message. Aside from the personal affront given the nature of her message, I think she has crossed a line in trying to do this in order to drum up future business. I am wondering if someone could get back to me to let me know how this resolves.

Thanks, Shimona

Well, they won't get back to her, but they will protect her from further assaults on her sensibility, as she explained in a subsequent email to me:

After I sent this, a box popped up saying that they will deal with the issue, but that no one will get back to me to give feedback....oh least I did something - oh, and by filing a complaint, she's automatically blocked.

Shimona had already decided not to favor the sheitelmacher's stupid message with a reply, so it's no great loss.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

DOTS burns the midnight oil

Got this last night at 11:58 p.m.:

Dear Ayelet,

You have proposed a very well conceived compromise.

I have not been in communication with you because I am only now recovering from a dreadful bout of the flu and several other matters have been pressing at the same time. You have not been far from my mind, and I am quite invested in getting this all resolved soon. I expect to be able to wind this up by Friday and will be back in touch with you either late Friday or over the weekend.

Thanks very much.

Best, DOTS
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Blue juice to chase away the blues

Well, I had no Vitamin K, so I opted for B vitamins in a large bottle of blueberry/blackberry juice. Maybe it was the sugar, or the hydration, or the vitamins, or the conversation I had with Jerry, but I felt better.

Jerry thought I should tone the letter down a little, make it absolutely non-confrontational, and play up the acupuncture training angle. Which I did, and sent it to DOTS. No word so far. (I also saw Jason, who told me, in no uncertain terms, that I am going to graduation whether I want to or not. Apparently I've played a larger role than I realize in keeping a number of students in the program.)

I mentioned my need for acupuncture training to our lecturer tonight. He was pleased to learn I'm fighting the school -- thought it demonstrated strength of character and showed I was probably the most interesting student here. He was entirely willing to supervise me during a two-week stint to make up some internship hours. In fact, he would be thrilled if my school started a full-year internship at his clinic.

I think it's a natural fit. The clinic's in Mott Haven, one of the most blighted areas of the Bronx -- i.e., one of the most blighted areas in America. For social workers, it's the mothership. Settlement workers 100 years ago would be moving in. You're working with traumatized substance abusers, many of whom are dually diagnosed -- one of the most challenging client populations. If you can work with them, you can work with anybody.

You're also learning an actual skill and clinical intervention, as opposed to mere theory -- something social work school doesn't really seem to teach. The clinic takes a holistic approach to substance abuse treatment -- acupuncture is only one component. There's also 12-step meetings, skills training classes, therapy groups, etc. So there's so much to learn, so much to do.

And our school needs all the internship locations it can get. Because there are a lot of social work schools in this city competing to place their students in a limited number of agencies -- several of which don't want anything to do with Dean Evillene.

But I still felt pretty awful tonight, because only four people, including me, showed up for the lecture. Despite me papering the school with flyers, posting tons of online announcements, etc. We had a great discussion, but honestly, what is wrong with all my fellow students who didn't have class during his lecture? Acupuncture and social work go together like peas and carrots. I can't believe that students immersed in our touchy-feely, culturally competent school environment don't get that and want a piece of it.

Oh well. He knows I tried, and with any luck I'll be sticking needles into clients sometime in May or June.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Why I need to carry Vitamin K in my purse

I am in a rotten mood. Fury, frustration, abject misery that I just can't shake. I don't even feel like eating a box of Entenmann's; I'm beyond that. I need chemical help to get out of this state.

Ironically, I just spent 40 minutes doing Zen meditation. I was annoyed that my attempts to promote the event didn't result in better attendance -- in fact, any attendance beyond me and the guy who's been studying Zen. It was embarrassing. And tonight I've got another event that I organized and publicized, and I'm terrified no one will show up. It's a big strain, and I can't just let it go.

I should be reading -- I'm hundreds of pages behind. I should write a paper or a process recording. Instead, I'm surfing Facebook and trying not to cry. I don't know why I'm so angry and upset. I don't think it's hunger, although I am a little hungry -- but my stomach's in knots, so for once I don't feel like eating.

Maybe I'm tired of being handed what I don't want, and being denied what I do want. I don't want to go out with the neb. Why can't I have a cool husband, someone dynamic and interesting?

I had a job interview this morning for a job within my current agency that I don't think I want. I'll find out if they liked me, because they're going to call Sally, my program director, and I'm pretty sure she'll tell me what they said about me. But can I afford to be picky right now? Literally -- can I afford to wait for the job I want, or do I have to succumb to dreary case management and paperwork?

I've got another job interview in exactly a week for another job within the agency. I have to shop for an interview suit, because I'm too fat for all my old suits. Something I should have done over Spring Break, when my brain turned to sludge for a week.

And I'm completely fed up with DOTS. It has been a month. How long does it take to decide that I don't need remediation and the internship department is incompetent? I wrote up an email to her but haven't sent it yet:

Dear DOTS,

It has been several weeks, and the matter of my alleged 200-hour fieldwork deficit has still not been resolved. I am starting to interview for jobs, and I do not know what to tell them should they ask when I can begin. Moreover, it would be irresponsible to begin the termination process with my clients without knowing precisely when my last day with them will be. That will hinder closure.

I should let you know that I have calculated how much time I have worked at this internship thus far: 555 hours. With the remaining 147 hours of my last seven weeks, that comes to a total of 702 hours I will have worked here.

I am also interested in taking the auricular acupuncture training offered at Lincoln Recovery Center, which would be another 80 hours of fieldwork. I am on friendly terms with the director of LRC, and I am sure that he or a licensed clinical social worker would be happy to supervise me during that training, which could serve as more internship hours for me.

The deficit would then be reduced to a mere 20 hours. Given that the Council on Social Work Education only requires 900 hours of fieldwork for the MSW degree, and given that the time I spent out of internship could have been entirely avoided had I but been allowed to start immediately at either of the options I presented to the internship department, I believe these 20 hours could be forgiven.

My professional development has not suffered from the time I missed last year; in fact, my program director told me she would have hired me were there an opening in her program. Nor will I suffer any professional ramifications from lacking a mere 20 hours of field work, as 1180 hours is more than sufficient for the Council on Social Work Education.

I hope this matter will be resolved soon.

Sincerely, Ayelet Survivor, M.A.

Professor Fun thought it was fine, but Jerry told me to hold off; I'm meeting with him later today.

I've also prepared a document that could be used to file a complaint against Dean Evillene for her many violations of the Social Work Code of Ethics. I'm so tempted to go ahead and send it to the National Association of Social Workers. I really hate this school right now, so much so that I considered not going to graduation. (Kinda gratifying that my classmates unanimously begged me not to skip it.)

I hate my dating life even more. And I'm so tired of hating. Maybe that's why I'm so miserable. I need to love -- someone or something. I love my current clients, but I'm leaving them in seven weeks. I love my nieces and nephews, but not enough to visit them at Jerusha's house.

Maybe I'll call Shuli and tell her I need to spend more time with baby Baruch. I went there last Shabbos, wearing a fur-collared sweater (yes, I know, politically incorrect and brutal to wear rabbit fur-trimmed clothing, but I've lost a bit of weight so the sweater fits great again, and wearing it feels like a victory). Baruch buried his face in the fur and fell asleep. It felt good.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

I don't want to marry a neb

A guy contacted me online. Eight years my senior, which is more than I like, although I'm trying to tolerate greater age differences. Special ed teacher. Seems perfectly nice. Thinks I'm terrific; can't believe I'm still single.

But he's such a nebbish. No fire. No charisma. Nothing interesting about him.

"What do you like to do in your spare time?" I asked him.

"Oh, I like to go to a movie now and then, or go out to eat," he said. Has the man no interests or passions?

I realize it's extremely difficult to find men who are mensches. But if nice is all he has to recommend him, I don't think that will be enough. It's another date I'm dreading, rather than looking forward to.

I recognize I'm making myself appear incredibly picky, and some of you are probably thinking, "No wonder she's still single." But I don't think it's too much to ask for a man who's fun to be with, good company. I'm tired of dating guys like Brooklyn Accountant.

I was also supposed to have a date tonight with another guy who seems more interesting, although he's Israeli and I have a few reservations about Israelis; they can be difficult to deal with. But I forgot I was organizing an event at school -- apparently my brain is still on Spring Break, mediocre as it was -- so I emailed him and asked him to call so we can reschedule (I don't think I have his number, although I sent him both of mine). Hopefully he will; I can see he's read the email.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Flower girls on Facebook

My no longer so little cousins, who were flower girls at Jerusha's wedding, Friended me on Facebook. Oysh. I'm old. So after they Friended me, the original flower girl bride found and added me too.

I finally got around to looking at her wedding photos, and I just want to say: ta-cky! White strapless A-line dress, spattered with shiny plastic sequins, crowned with a poofy tulle skirt. Completely unoriginal, stereotypically hideous. Looks like it cost about $75.

Sad what I need to do to make myself feel a little better.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A not so freilichen Purim

Earlier I was musing over the difference between "I'm not in the mood" and "I can't." I needed to get my hair cut, and I didn't feel like leaving the apartment. I don't know why my mood has been down lately, but I've been struggling. Yesterday I went for brunch with Rochel, but didn't feel like doing anything else -- getting a massage, getting a pedicure, shopping. So I came straight home.

This morning, frustrated with my computer's slow processing speed (it's less than 3 years old, and it's slower than dial-up), I uninstalled some programs I thought I didn't need. I checked -- they said I only used them "occasionally" or "rarely." So I uninstalled something called "SoundMax" and went to get a haircut.

I "wasn't in the mood" to go, but I forced myself. I needed a conditioning treatment and a trim (and, if you're to take the stylist's word for it, I desperately need a color rinse to cover all my grays). I knew a haircut wouldn't require much effort on my part; I was able to force myself to go.

I tell you, though, I hate seeing myself in mirrors. First I sat under the dryer with glop on my hair, feeling like a troll in a beauty parlor; then I had to watch myself get a haircut. I just feel so enormous. Maybe that's why I didn't want to go; I know I hate looking at myself in the mirror while someone fusses with my hair.

Anyway, I came home to a disaster. I don't know how something I use every day could be considered "rarely," but Soundmax is the audio driver on my hard drive, and I had no volume. For someone whose major downtime pastime is watching TV shows and movies on the computer, this was devastating. It was a huge struggle to find the solution, download the right patch, and fix things.

I got extremely frustrated and furious. Although I learned -- during my frantic Google searches for "uninstalled SoundMax help" and "audio driver XP dell" -- that many people uninstall the exact same driver. That was some comfort; I'm not the only idiot who's done this. But by the time I had fixed things, I was exhausted from the rage and vexation.

I was especially angry at myself for deleting something I needed, and once again was confronted with my essential aloneness. I realize not all husbands can fix things that wives mess up, but at least they can condole with them and brainstorm solutions. I was on my own. Again. As always.

I was supposed to meet someone at megillah reading tonight -- new husband of a friend of mine. There are tons of parties going on. And I can't go. I really can't. I can't go out feeling like this and spend time with a bunch of strangers and slight acquaintances. I just can't party when I feel this terrible. I need to be alone at home.

I took two vitamin K, a safe but strong dose, so I'm feeling better, but I certainly am not up to getting dressed, putting on makeup, and pretending to be happy. Let alone figure out a costume.

Some spring break this turned out to be. Maybe I'll go for a massage after the Purim seuda tomorrow; Alona and Adir invited me. Shuli will be there with my newest nephew; maybe I'll get to hold him.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Why do I look like I know where I'm going?

Three people asked me for directions today. I am terrible with directions -- I have no sense of direction. Fortunately, I was in my neighborhood, on my way to and from brunch with my friend Rochel the shadchanit, so I was able to steer them correctly. But it just makes me wonder why people think I know where I'm going, when I feel so uncertain.

Rochel and I had a great time, discussing books, her new blog (I haven't told her about mine), and bashert.

"Ayelet, you have your bashert, just like everyone else," Rochel said. "You deserve to meet him as much as anyone else does." Of course I agree, but it's hard to keep the faith when you go out with guys like TD and Captain Best Effort.

Unfortunately, Rochel doesn't know a lot of modern orthodox guys, and I've already dated all the ones she knows. (What a sad comment on my life....) But she's just landed on Facebook, for which she has high hopes. Maybe she'll meet someone new and introduce him to me.

I don't know if I'll ever be able to tell her about my illness, though. Trying to boost my spirits, Rochel told me about a gentleman for whom his third marriage was the charm. He was married for a long time but had no children, and they divorced. He got married again -- very briefly.

"After two weeks, he was living in his car," Rochel told me. "She told him she was bipolar before they got married, but it wasn't until they started living together that he realized what he'd let himself in for."

I winced. I don't think she noticed, because she went on, "But he met his third wife less than a month after his second divorce. And then they got married two months later. And he's crazy about her." Unintentional irony in her choice of adjectives.

Sigh. I realize that I'm not the stereotypical "difficult" person with bipolar -- I take my medication and I work hard at functioning well. But most people don't realize what a large continuum mental health is. Bipolar sounds like a scary diagnosis, to most people.

I guess I'll have to trust that my bashert is out there and will be able to accept me, disorder and all. As the AA folks have coined, "Those who matter, don't judge, and those who judge, don't matter." (AA's big on pithy slogans, but this one really speaks to me.)

Rochel's a Rules-certified dating coach, and she gave me some pointers about how to approach dating and developing a relationship. My "break-the-Rules" style certainly hasn't worked for me. I guess I'll try being more of a "Rules girl" for now -- if I can pull it off.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

What a difference GOOD health insurance makes

Just did my taxes. This year I spent only $5,400 on medical expenses -- less than half of the $12,250 I spent in 2006.

Of course, 2008 could look pretty scary if I don't get a job with benefits quickly after graduation. My school's health insurance, vastly superior to that offered by The Bad Place -- I hear they're now suggesting their students sign up for the low-income health insurance offered by New York State, rather than the package they officially offer -- only lasts through August.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Losing important documents and MY MIND

This morning I sat down to do my taxes and sorted through a bunch of important documents. I logged onto the tax software site and realized I somehow lost one. Which I'd had in my hand not five minutes earlier.

It's not that big an apartment, but it's in total chaos. And I can't find the fucking thing. I had to request a replacement copy, which will take at least 24 hours.

I don't know if I'm suffering the aftereffects of my coma, struggling with a mixed state, or going senile. I do know I'm completely frustrated.

UPDATE: My parents asked me to send them a copy of a document. Instead of sending a scan of the one they actually asked for, I scanned another -- the important document I "lost." Apparently I left it in the printer/scanner/fax, and that's why I couldn't find it.

Oy. How am I going to take care of other people when I clearly can barely take care of myself?
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, March 17, 2008

Guitar Zero

An ex-girlfriend of Guitar Hero, Shoshana, wrote me on Facebook because he posted a photo of the two of us:

Ayelet, I am really not trying to be nasty, but I noticed in your profile that you have a picture of you and GH. As you probably know I am no longer going out with GH at all. He broke up with me based on the fact that I would not go to bed with him. I do not want to associate myself with someone who has slept with several woman and talks about other woman that he has dated. I might tell you that he is the type who has slept around with several woman and has talked about everyone behind their back including telling me that his friend JG failed the bar exam, when I first met him. He also said somethings about you and I was really happy when the relationship was over. I would really highly advise you to stay away from him. I really never had the opportunity to tell you this because I just never did. And now I am since I am on Facebook, I am telling you this. You can make the decision of what you want to do or you can learn the hard way. If you really wan to know what he said about you, I will tell you. He told me that you put a vibrator up you know what. I am very serious. I think that it is really disgusting to discuss these things with other people.

Okay, that was more information than I needed -- although I was pleased to learn JG flunked the bar -- but it didn't really surprise me. I didn't want to get into this discussion, though. I responded:

GH took that picture of us at a party we were both at. I'm not really that friendly with him. I'm not surprised he said those things, but I really don't care because I'm not close with him.

She tried to fish a little more:

That is not a nice thing to say at all. I am sure he said some nasty things about me.

I wasn't going to go there. Obviously she knows he's got loose lips and wants to know the crap he's spewing about her -- which, true to character, he has indeed told me. But I don't think it would be helpful to tell her, and I don't want to support his loshon hora.

A few weeks later, GH emailed me:

Sorry I gossiped about you. Shosh seems to feel vindictive and gets off on sending me nasty emails and sending nasty emails to my friends. She sent one message saying "How is your friend Amir?" knowing full well he is dead -- she has a very good memory so she meant that to be cruel and hurtful to me. Sorry you are involved in this, I may call her and deal with it.

Hope all is well, hope I didn't offend you when I sent you an email clarifying my stance on our relationship, saying I do not wish to have a girlfriend - boyfriend relationship with you.

"Hope I didn't offend you?" You've gotta be kidding. I should have left it alone, but I have a constitutional inability to stop myself from putting in my 2 cents (or more).

I wasn't offended that you're not interested in dating me. I was offended by the extremely rude way you handled it and decided I was no longer interested in being your friend. I don't doubt that Shoshana is being vindictive, but I also believe what she says about you.

Why can't I let well enough alone? Of course he wrote back.

How should I have responded to you? And why do you think Shoshana is doing these things to me?


You should have talked to me when I tried to talk to you, and you should not have been rude and disrespectful. I don't know why Shoshana is behaving this way.

Actually, I do have my theories about why Shoshana is acting this way, but I'm damned if he's going to get the benefit of my expensively acquired education for free. And I don't believe for a minute that his lame-ass apology was sincere, especially since he wrote back:

I was under the impression that proper etiquette for both the male and the female is to not answer calls since it makes them appear desperate and needy, and I thought the appropriate thing to do is to not return calls -- that is what orthodox women do to me, so I figured that is what is done.

GH was raised orthodox and is now no longer observant. He loves to slide in these little passive-aggressive digs at orthodox men and women.

There's only one way to get the last word in the digital age...

I can't tell whether you're being disingenuous or deliberately dense, or manifesting symptoms of your closed head injury. Just don't contact me anymore; I've blocked your email addresses.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Why am I irresistible to Arabs?

Facebook has a program, Spark, that lets you say whether you'd like to date the friends of your friends. You can either let people know you're interested openly or anonymously, and if the object of your interest is interested in you, you've got a match.

I guess my friends know a lot of Arabs, or Moslems, because dozens of men with names like Mohamed, Hussein, Ali, and Ibrahim have expressed an interest in me. Also a fair number of Latinos, Italians, Greeks, African-Americans, Indians, and what I'm guessing are either Finns or Norwegians.

What's missing are the Jewish guys. Very few of them openly professed their interest, and although I allegedly matched with 21 of them, only two -- very non-religious Israelis -- have bothered to contact me.

I'm starting to think that if I limit myself to orthodox Jewish men, I will never get married. It's so hard to maintain my faith when every time I go on Frumster, I see dozens of men who couldn't be bothered to return my initial contact, and every time I go on Facebook, I see huge numbers of non-Jews who apparently want to date me.

I go to a homeless shelter once a week for my internship. It's not surprising that the shelter residents think I'm attractive -- and since they limit themselves to whistles and applause, it doesn't bother me -- but the shelter staff apparently shares their opinion. The staff is primarily African-American, and by their standards, I am a fine figure of a woman. By predominantly Jewish male standards, I'm an aged blimp.

Why can't I go to shul and feel as happy and confident as I do in a freakin' homeless shelter? What is wrong with Jewish men????
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Cranky Ayelet

I can't take going without sex. I went into my internship even though it's spring break because we just started a new group, at my suggestion, and I wanted to be there to co-facilitate. But I ended up pissing off not one but two clients.

Granted, they're both difficult and annoying people, but I'm supposed to be able to deal with their nonsense. And I couldn't; I had no patience or tolerance for their shenanigans. Instead, I found myself trying to control them, judging them, getting defensive and blaming them.

No one censured me; the social worker I co-facilitate the group with fell all over himself to tell me that I'm doing fine, although he did suggest that we start meeting before as well as after the group. Melanie said that I was setting appropriate limits for one of the clients, who has an exaggerated sense of entitlement.

But I feel rotten and terribly frustrated. My lack of sex life is bleeding over into my work life. I want someone to touch me, intimately. It's killing me not to have sex.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, March 16, 2008

License to sit on my tushy

A recent Dutch study found that exercise isn't an effective antidepressant. Rather, people who are genetically prone to exercise are less likely to develop mental disorders. It seems activity level is genetically, rather than environmentally, determined, and correlates with less depression but doesn't cause it. Always an important distinction.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"


USA Today rejected my op-ed piece in less than 12 hours. Ouch. Over to the NY Times...
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Mouthing off

Sent an op-ed piece about being a former mental patient (that dreaded phrase) to USA Today. We'll see if they pick it up.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Went with Alona to shul today -- first time in months. Had an annoying run-in at kiddush; I think I overreacted. I have this friend, Ozer, who's not the most socially skilled guy on the West Side. He came over while I was shmoozing with another friend, Neima, and her Shabbos guest, Shani. Shani used to live on the West Side, and apparently she knows Ozer.

"Hi, Shani!" said Ozer. "I guess you're the reason Neima couldn't come to my lunch today."

Right in front of me! And he didn't leave it at that -- he kept talking about the stupid meal. Now, I had plans -- I'd been invited to Eric and Ahuva's. But isn't it universally recognized as rude to talk about your party in front of someone who's not invited?

Then again, maybe I'm a little too sensitive these days. I'm energized by the extra sunshine we're getting, thanks to the end of daylight savings time (something I think should be outlawed), but instead of getting happy, I'm more mixed due to the stress I'm enduring waiting for DOTS to do something. Say no, I don't have to work those 200 hours the internship department forced me to miss, and I'm fine. Say yes, and I contact the University president, the University newspaper, and the Council on Social Work Education. But say something already!!!

So I have to be really careful, which I'm not good about doing. I got into a fight with an ossified psychologist, Dr. Dope, a frequent guest of Eric and Ahuva who apparently hasn't read a single journal article since he got his PhD in 1942 or whenever. (He's 50 -- so it's probably more like 1982.) We've had several run-ins at their table, since neither of us agrees with a single word the other one says.

Dr. Dope believes that schizophrenia is caused by the family environment, not genetically determined. A view so phenomenally idiotic that I couldn't help but tell him how discredited that theory is -- not that it made any dent in his thick head. Then Eric called time-out and limited discussion to topics directly related to Shabbat.

Another guest, a cardiologist, was actually asking Dr. Dope whether "bipolars" are treated by psychopharmacologists or psychologists. I winced. I really hate when people are referred to as adjectives. I'm not "a bipolar." But I didn't try to educate the cardiologist.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Stating the obvious

I got another message from another incredibly unsuitable guy.

Subject: am I out of your range...

u sound delicious! I'm a good guy. I'm coming in to NYC... Want to meet?

Of course I sound delicious -- I'm 12 years younger than you are! Maybe it's because I'm operating on four hours of sleep, but I didn't even try to be nice.

You're 12 years older than I am and you're hassidish. If you had read my profile, you would know that I am definitely not interested.

I'm so fed up with dating.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"


I stopped using the light box a week ago. But I'm still only getting about four hours of sleep a night unless I add Vitamin K to my nightly medication cocktail, and I don't want to make a habit of that because I don't want to develop a habit.

Today, sitting in the computer lab, I looked at my computer and saw "5:59 PM." My watch said 5:00, so I assumed it had lost an hour and reset it. Since I have a class at 6 p.m., I logged off and went upstairs. Nobody was in the classroom, and the clock in the room said 5:00.

"How are you, Ayelet?" asked a classmate as I trudged back into the computer lab to kill an hour before class.

"Walking in my sleep," I told her, resetting my watch.

I don't know how much more of this I can handle. It's already having a very bad effect on my mood, which affects my performance at school and at my internship, where a few people have commented that I seem to be burning out. Thank goodness next week is Spring Break, and I only have to go into my internship for one day.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Note to self

Never eat frozen blueberries with your fingers. Your fingers will be purple. Use a spoon.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Scenes from a bathroom

"You look so cute today, Ayelet!" said my perky feminist classmate Jeannie. We had sex last summer -- the Human Sexuality class that led to my first professional publication. We did a sex therapy role-play together -- I pretended to be a fervently Christian conflicted lesbian, and she pretended to have a high-powered career and a bad case of vaginismus. She wrote her term paper on vaginal cosmetic surgery, and I encouraged her to submit it for publication.

"Thanks," I said, bemused and searching for a soap dispenser that actually contained soap. She was the third person to tell me that today. I was wearing a little black slipdress with a patterned johnny-collar shirt underneath it, and a headband that matched one of the colors in the shirt. Apparently I made quite the fashion statement.

"But you always dress up for school," continued Jeannie, who was wearing velour sweatpants and a hoodie sweatshirt.

"Well, I don't look good in jeans," I joked, "so I have to wear skirts and dresses."

"It's not just that," said Jeannie. "You're always in your little outfits, you're coordinated, everything matches... You always look so nice!"

Interesting. This morning, looking down at myself while walking to the bus, I thought, "Crap, my dress and my tights are two different shades of black. Ah, who cares, no one'll notice, it's just school." And whenever I'm in the bathroom, I look in the mirror and experience a moment of silent despair about how frizzy my hair looks.

But that's not how my classmates see me. They think I look adorable. Maybe I should take their word for it. Then again, they are social work students, so they're nicer than about 99% of the population.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Irony bites

I wrote two papers in two days. Well, three days, although I didn't get much done on Sunday. And I worked on one at my internship but somehow didn't email myself the updated version, so when I got home I had to totally rewrite it. They were only five pages and seven pages long. Still, that's pretty productive for someone as close to total fury as I am these days.

I'm angry at school. I'm angry at Gd. I'm angry at TD. I'm angry at myself. I'm angry at the world.

And the ironic thing is, I'm working on anger management with one of my clients. Twice a week, no less. Talk about the blind leading the blind.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, March 09, 2008


I have two papers due on Tuesday, and I can't focus on either one. I'm behind on a case formulation for my individual therapy with one client. How can a guy spend hours with me on the phone and in person, and disclose so much personal stuff about himself, and listen to me tell him my secrets, and then dump me by email?

I'm a wreck. I slept three hours last night. Part of me just wants to give up.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Friday, March 07, 2008

TD flakes

I don't get it. After one date and dozens of calls, emails, and text messages, TD was surprisingly quiet yesterday. Today he emailed me:

I am going to take a break from the dating scene for now. I am going to focus on a new organization to help teenagers.

I can't believe I thought he was different. I wrote back:

You know, it's really not cool to inform me of this by email, but fine. Good luck.

Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Ayelet the snoop

I was naughty. Melanie left her blog URL on a post-it on her computer monitor, and I saw it when I put a note on her desk.

I couldn't resist. I peeked. And this is what I read:

I've taken on a new responsibility, supervising a social work graduate student. I'm lucky to have a hardworking, intelligent student, and I enjoy providing supervision to her as well as showing her the practical and real side of social work.

[[blushing]] They say eavesdroppers seldom hear anything good about themselves, but that must not hold true for blog voyeurs. I feel kind of guilty, though. Like I should show her my blog, where she of course would read nothing but the best about herself. But she'd learn a lot more about me than she revealed about herself on her blog.

Sigh. I'll have to live with the guilt.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Another shot at becoming Dr. Survivor

A classmate introduced me to a hunky doctoral candidate -- sandy hair, piercing blue eyes, rugged build; my hormones are through the roof since my date with TD -- who does research in my area of interest. He very generously sat down to help me network and brainstorm job-hunting strategies, and he also reviewed my résumé.

"Wow," he said, scanning down the page. "Ivy League undergrad degree. Master's in psychology -- you've done research. A published article and another pending publication. This is really impressive -- you're way ahead of your peers. I don't know if you've considered getting a doctorate in social work, but with all this on your résumé, you'd have no trouble getting in."

Hm. Considering all the trouble I had getting into a psychology doctoral program, and how unpleasant it was once I got there, the idea of sailing into a social work doctoral program that would appreciate my brilliance and talents is tempting.

I've been mulling the idea over, and I've decided that while I would be happy to earn a doctorate in clinical social work, I'm not willing to pay for it. I spent enough on my MSW. But if the school is willing to pay me, I'd probably be open to it.

My current school doesn't provide doctoral stipends -- of course it doesn't. But another local school, which focuses exclusively on clinical social work (Hunky Doctoral Candidate promised me I'd never have to take another boring policy class if I specialized in clinical practice), has a ton of money that they love giving to students. My program director, Sally, got her MSW there, and it was basically a free ride. And they've got a special doctoral stipend program in my area of interest.

I definitely want to work for a few years to get more clinical experience under my belt. But if I did this doctoral program, I'd be getting essentially the same clinical training I'd get in a psychology doctoral program, minus the focus on testing. Which is actually quite a tedious process, and something you can always outsource.

I haven't always been interested in research, but what the heck -- maybe after a few years practicing, I'll be in the mood for research. Who knows? I may be Dr. Survivor one of these days, and it might not cost me a thing. Definitely a better deal than The Bad Place!
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Even the nicest psychiatrists are wankers

We had a guest speaker in my clinical practice class, a psychiatrist who specializes in mood and anxiety disorders. He spoke about treatments for depression, and even though he had a ton of useful information to convey, and seemed like a very sympathetic clinician, I found him terribly condescending.

He struck me as having a very "us vs. them" mentality, "us" being the practitioners and "them" being the clients. He kept saying things like, "It's important to get a medication history from someone besides the patient, because patients won't remember how long they were taking a particular medication or what the dosage was -- they'll just remember it was a blue pill."

Excuse me -- but I've taken a lot of pills, and I've been able to keep or compile records of them. And I remember a lot more about them than the color and shape, including dosages, side effects, and what worked for me or didn't. So do many of my current clients, whose disorders are much more severe than mine. Not all "patients" are feckless wretches.

So he just rubbed me the wrong way, and I got very sharp and testy. To his credit, when I asked him questions in a challenging tone he responded politely and appropriately -- he's trained to deal with difficult people, and unlike some mental health professionals, he didn't get defensive when I contradicted or confronted him. But it was very hard to listen to him describe patients and their symptoms -- my symptoms -- and not be offended.

Part of the problem is that I'm experiencing some trouble right now controlling my own mood and symptoms. Including terminal insomnia -- it's 2 a.m. right now -- and use of my light therapy box. So when he was describing symptoms I'm troubled by, or medications I've taken, or strategies I've tried, it hit terribly close to home. But I still feel bad about being rude.

The class is taught by Professor Supportive, who participated in the panel discussion I organized last semester. So she knows I have bipolar. I sent her an apologetic email just now:

I'm sorry if I came across as sharp or disrespectful during Dr. Wanker's lecture. I'm struggling a lot right now managing my own symptoms, including terminal insomnia, medication changes, and when and how much I should be using my light box now that the days are getting longer. So focusing on depression treatment options brings up a lot of emotional responses in me.

Also, I kept feeling that, nice as he is, he's still got a very psychiatrist-like "us vs. them" mentality. I'm very sensitive to practitioners who don't really recognize or acknowledge their clients' strengths. Of course, psychiatrists aren't trained the way social workers are, and it might be better if they were, but he really rubbed me the wrong way.

Still, I shouldn't have been so testy. Please chalk it up to sleep deprivation and being reminded a little too much of my own current situation.

UPDATE: Professor Supportive wrote back.

Dear Ayelet, thanks for sending your apologies along with such a thoughtful message. I know how these things can happen, especially when the topic is sensitive, and you're dealing with issues close to home. Meanwhile, I hope you are okay -- I know trying to finish up this whole program is incredibly stressful under the best of circumstances. Please let me know if I can be of support.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

It's so not her fault

One of my professors, Dr. Meander, gets on my last nerve, and it's so not her fault. She speaks in the slow, soothing cadences of a nursery school teacher at naptime, and it takes her forever to get to the point. By the end of class I'm ready to jump out of my skin, because her personal style is so anathema to me. And I feel bad for hating her, because she's a really nice person and I do actually believe she knows what she's talking about. She just talks... about it... too... damn... slowly.

Dr. Meander also made me redo an assignment that I thought was poorly defined, or I would have given her exactly what she wanted. So I had to spend a few hours doing more or less just a restatement of what I'd already written, hence a complete waste of my time. And she passed out class evaluations near the end of class, asking us to hand them in the next week, which was last week. I guess I was irritated about the unnecessary busywork, so I expressed myself rather freely, as I tend to do with these anonymous evaluations.

So this week Dr. Meander comes up to me right before class and asks to speak with me privately. Uh-oh!

"Ayelet, did you hand in an evaluation last week?" she asked.

"Uh... yeah," I said. They were supposed to be anonymous!

"First, I want to say that I really liked your revised assignment. You got an A," she said.

"Thank you," I said. Where is this going?

"We're going to spend some time in class going over the second assignment, to be sure that everyone understands what kind of paper I'm looking for, and everyone feels confident they can produce that," Dr. Meander said. Okay -- that's an improvement.

"I also want you to know that I want this course to be a good educational experience for you, Ayelet, and if your learning needs are not being met, I want you to be sure to tell me so that I can adjust the assignments, and perhaps the readings, in order to provide you with what you need from this course," she said. "Because a clinical practice course is geared to refine the skills you're currently using, so I need feedback from my students to ensure I provide that kind of experience for them."

I really appreciate her taking the time to reassure me that my concerns were very important to her. But why does it have to take so much time?

"I appreciate that," I told her. Fortunately another student had a question, and Dr. Meander turned her caring, slowly-moving attention away from me.

I feel terrible not liking her. I know I should. But right now, I can't wait for this class to be over.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Staggering coincidences

I have so much in common with TD that it's unbelievable. No, he doesn't have bipolar disorder or any other Axis I pathology (or Axis II, from what I can tell, which is a very good thing), but we have a staggering number of similar experiences. I was blown away as he told me about his life; I can't even put it into words, and it wouldn't be fair to him to blog about it, but I definitely understood a lot of what he's gone through and how it led him to where he is now. I actually felt comfortable disclosing back, and he accepted me completely. It's uncanny. There's definitely a kesher.

Of course, I'm kind of annoyed that he beat me at Connect 4, which has always been the game I was better at than anyone else. And we're both kind of scared at the intensity of this connection. But we're taking it very slow.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"


Me and Carly Simon. I can't wait for my date tonight. Which is a nice change from "I can't wait till my date is over -- I'm running out of the restaurant..."

But I'm sweating like a pig right now. It's 51° outside, and they haven't turned the heat off at school. And I don't have time to go home and shower before meeting TD at the nice restaurant. Thank Gd I brought perfume in my makeup arsenal. And thank Gd for learning, late in life, that it's a really bad idea to sleep with a guy on a first date. Right now I'd be too embarrassed to, if nothing else. Some people wear granny panties on first dates, following the same principle.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, March 03, 2008

A shit-free diet

I'm on a shit-free diet with TD. He's not playing it cool. He IMed me about seven times today, sending videos of his immense salt-water fishtank and his friend's son's extremely lavish bris. He was thrilled that I got home earlier than expected and called him. He plans to call me again after dinner tonight.

He told me I'm like no girl he's ever met. I have a unique mind, I'm expressive and funny and brilliant and creative.

I said, "Well, you grew up in Brooklyn and lived in Jersey. Of course I'm different!"

But it's nice to talk to someone who's so openly enthusiastic about me. No bullshit. No mind games.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Lazy day

I did nothin' all day except watch TV on the computer, wash my hair, paint my nails, wax my legs, and talk to TD. He's quite a talker. He called me a bunch of times.

TD's fun to talk to, but I worry that he'll lose interest as soon as he sees me in person. NDD told our mutual friend Nice Jewish Guy that I didn't look like my posted pics -- so I took most of them down. The only picture of me is about a year and a half old, and reflects my current heft. Which TD seems to appreciate.

I guess I'm gun-shy because over the years I've had extensive pre-date conversations with other men that led up to one and only one date. Both at this weight and at lesser weights. I don't want that to happen again. Of course, the best way to forestall that would be to stop talking to TD and wait until our date on Tuesday. But what else am I going to do all day? Study? Feh.

More troubling, TD mentioned in passing that he had "some crazy ex-girlfriend -- she was bipolar and an alcoholic, she punched me in the face to wake me up one time. She refused to get any help -- that's why I left."


Careful questioning elicited relevant details, and I might have been able to convince him that she actually had borderline personality disorder instead. I wasn't making it up -- she evidenced sudden violence, splitting, and other very borderline symptoms. But now of course I'm even more afraid to tell him about my disorder. Not that I was planning to open with that on the first date.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Seeing myself through others' eyes

Facebook has an application called "Compare People," where you can rank your friends' qualities. This is where I stand:

19 out of 30 people said I was "most attractive" so I'm #1 in that category
8 out of 9 people voted that I have "best hair" -- also #1
6 out of 6 voted me "smartest" -- #1 again

I'm #2 in "prettiest" (6 of 11 votes), "the one I'd rather date" (8 out of 10), "the one I'd rather sleep with" (9 out of 9 -- I wonder who outranked me?), a preferred dinner companion (7 of 6), and more likely to do a favor for someone (6 of 5).

Eight out of 11 people would rather marry me; 8 out of 12 say I'm sexier and would rather kiss me; and 7 of 10 people say I'm more cuddly -- my #3 rankings. Where I come in fourth: 6 of 11 people say I have a better body and I'm cuter.

On the lower end, I'm ranked the 95th-most adventurous, which is probably true. But I'm rated 89th for creative (1 vote out of 3) and 88th for naturally talented (0 out of 1). No one thought I was happier than anyone else, and -- this hurts -- only 1 of 4 people thought I had a better sense of humor: 73rd. Ouch.

I'm not investing these scores with much, but it's clear that people seem to think I'm a lot more attractive and shapely, and a lot less funny and creative, than I do. Food for thought.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Brownie points

My latest online suitor is accruing a few. While surfing a dating site last Thursday, I saw his profile and sent him an IM. We chatted online, then spoke on the phone. I got a little annoyed because he emailed me a photo of himself, and when I said it was small he said, "Rub it -- it'll get bigger."

"Shame on you! I am a bas Melech!" I thundered at him. "That's no way to talk to me!" Abashed, he apologized.

He redeemed himself somewhat by calling and and leaving me a message Friday afternoon to wish me a good Shabbos -- something I love. It means a lot to me when a guy does that -- really shows he's thinking about me in a pious way. I called him back, and we decided to go out next Tuesday. Since time was getting short, he said we'd talk Saturday night if that was okay with me.

"Call me," he said. "I'm away for Shabbos with my son."

Yeah -- he's divorced. Three kids -- a 19-year-old daughter, a 14-year-old daughter, and a 9-year-old son. He got married at age 19 and started procreating right away. He was raised extremely Litvish, spent some time off the derech after his divorce, and now identifies as modern orthodox liberal -- as I do. The kids live with his ex-wife in Jersey; he splits his time between a business in Jersey and a business in Brooklyn. So let's call him Travelin' Dad, or TD.

Although he seems to be doing fairly well financially, TD doesn't have a bachelor's degree. Many guys from his background don't. That gave me some pause, but in his profile, he said:

I am looking for an intelligent woman who is beautiful inside and out. I don't judge a book by its cover.

Putting intelligence first, as opposed to "very sweet and gentle" or, even worse, "very family-oriented and wants to be a stay-at-home mother," also made a good impression on me.

He asked when my birthday was.

"Why?" I asked, wondering if he was going to give me a present.

"Every person in my family -- grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, and cousins -- have either a 6 or a 9 in their birth date," he said very seriously.

"Is this some kind of gematria?" I asked skeptically.

"Kinda," he said. Fortunately, my birthday made the cut. "I guess I'm ready to join your family, then," I joked.

"I guess you are," he said. "By the way, I got the most important aliyah this Shabbos. Guess which one."

"Shlishi?" I asked. That's the third aliyah -- the first after Cohen and Levi are honored.

"No -- shishi," he said. That's the sixth.

"Why would shishi be better than shlishi?" I asked. "It's not like maftir -- you're not going to read the haftorah."

"Lemme conference call my dad -- he'll know," he said, dialing. "Don't say anything." I started to giggle. It's too early to talk to his parents!

"Hello?" said a gentle, dry voice.

"Hey, Abba, it's TD."

"Gut voch, TD. Vus tutsich?"

"I'm fine. Listen, Abba, why is shishi the most important aliyah?"

"Only by Chassidim," said Abba. "Not by us. By us it's shlishi,"

"Why is shishi so important to Chassidim?" asked TD.

"I don't know why it's so important to them," said Abba. He spoke with mild exasperation, as if no one could fathom Chassidim and their peculiar ways. Litvaks and Chassidim don't see eye to eye on many things, although they no longer sit shiva if their children intermarry.

"So why is it shishi by us, Abba?"

"Because it's the first aliyah for a Yisroel," said Abba, as if it should have been obvious.

I was choking with self-righteous laughter.

"So how's Binny?" Abba asked about TD's youngest.

"He's fine, we're going bowling. We might stop by later," said TD.

"Don't," said Abba. "Your mother has a group of ladies over. You shouldn't bother them." In his parents' community, gender segregation is pretty strict.

"Okay, okay, I won't. Have a good night, Abba." TD hung up and I exploded with laughter.

"So Tuesday night," he said, changing the subject. "I want to go to a nice restaurant."

Good. I'm tired of cheapskate men taking me for coffee or suggesting we get bagels at the bagel store. We decided on a time and place and hung up.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"