Sunday, June 29, 2008

The world is too damn small

I got a call from Facebook Guy, who asked me out via IM. Turns out he is a) 10 years younger than I am and b) the younger brother of a guy I hooked up with (very unsatisfactorily) many years ago. I'm not going to turn down a free movie, but I can't see this going anywhere.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Officially no longer trying

They say that when you stop trying to find your bashert, he'll find you. Well, I'm no longer paying for Frumster, and I'm sick of dating, so I guess I'm officially no longer trying. I thought about going on a singles weekend, but then I remembered how much I've hated the ones I went on before, so I don't think I'll bother.

I actually have a date coming up with someone who Friended me on Facebook, but I don't have high hopes. Still, it's a free movie.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, June 23, 2008

Fishing off the agency dock

The day after I started my job, I processed a client's discharge. I had the impression, gained from one meeting with him, that he was involved with someone, because when I asked -- as part of the discharge planning process -- "Do you have a girlfriend?" he said, emphatically, "Woman. I don't have time to be messin' with no girls. I'm a man."

Oh-kay. He kind of spooked me, maybe because he was so intense. He wanted to be done already with the program and the agency. He made that abundantly clear. He was also very annoyed that I hadn't printed out his certificate of completion -- not my fault, my predecessor should have done it -- so I was relieved the next week when he came in to pick up his certificate and said he wouldn't be back "unless it's to take Miss Ayelet out to dinner."

He's kidding, right? He has a "woman." I said, "Sure -- as long as your woman doesn't mind."

This morning I found a voicemail from this client that he'd left on Friday. Uh-oh. I really didn't want to deal with him, especially if he was mad. I don't know why I was so scared of him -- I usually don't have a problem with clients when they're mad mad. Maybe because he was so impatient to be gone and implied that I, in my ignorance, was forcing him to stick around.

Anyway, I called him back to see what he wanted, and left a message. He called back while I was in the middle of an intake with a new client. Turns out... he wanted to take me out to dinner. "I didn't want to ask you when I picked up the certificate, because the desk clerk was there and he doesn't need to know our business."

Eesh. "I'm so sorry," I told him, "but I can't date clients."

"I'm no longer a client," he pointed out helpfully.

"Actually, I can't date anyone who's ever been a client of the agency," I clarified, blushing. "It's against agency policy." Not to mention the social work code of ethics. (The new client was polite enough to keep his giggles to himself.)

So what is wrong with Jewish men? African-American men apparently find me incredibly desirable. So do Latinos. So do Arabs, for Gd's sake. What the hell is wrong with Jewish men?????

Gd has a nasty sense of humor.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

"Please don't leave, Ayelet!"

Things are busy at work. Right now I have a caseload of 31 clients, all of whom (well, most of whom) I met within the past week. I'm learning a bunch of new procedures and policies while trying to remember 31 names and faces -- more if you count the other employees. (Part of the reason I haven't been blogging much lately. I'm too busy finding all 9 trillion forms that are used on 9 trillion occasions, tracking down errant files, signing clients up for groups, and remembering to do my boring but essential billing statements.)

Things aren't supposed to be this busy. But someone quit two days before I started, and someone else quit two days ago. The remaining counselors and I are picking up a lot of slack and cleaning up other people's messes.

And that's fine. It's hectic and confusing, and I've made a bunch of minor-to-medium mistakes, but everyone pretty much expects me to make mistakes because I was totally thrown into the maelstrom. They just don't want me to quit.

They really don't want me to quit. During case conference, when more and more unfinished business was coming to light, and we were realizing just how messy the departed colleagues had left things, one of the other counselors leaned across the table and said to me, "We're all thinking, 'Please don't leave, Ayelet!'"

Which is nice to hear. In fact, the director of the whole agency, Derek, whose office is at our location (or maybe he has an office in every location; I'm not sure) took the time to ask me how I was doing and was I feeling anxious about my job security (I wasn't) or over-burdened (just a little). I told him Derek felt fine, and that I would probably be making a fair number of mistakes as I adjusted to the place, but I like the clients and I like the other employees. He said that was only fair.

Derek visited case conference, too, to boost morale and reassure everyone that no one else is being terminated or planning to leave, including me. He asked me if I needed anything.

"Well, my computer's really slow," I said.

"Get her a new computer!" Derek said immediately.

I should have asked for a company cell phone.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ayelet loves The Zohan

Don't Mess with the Zohan is a typical Adam Sandler movie, frequently crass and completely politically incorrect. But it's funny, and it shows hot young men going crazy for hefty, middle-aged to elderly women. The Zohan enthusiastically romances and bangs any and all women, most of whom are over 50 years old and well over 115 pounds. What a great repudiation of the prevailing American standard of beauty, where only young, rail-thin women are viewed as sexual beings and older, chunkier women are objects of mockery or disgust.

Mariah Carey is great in a cameo, even though she's only playing herself.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Friday, June 13, 2008

Accoladed acupuncturist

I'm officially a certified detox acupuncturist. I went to the clinic to complete my training and get the documentation to send to my school, leaving at about 11 a.m. to go to work for half a day. The trainer paid me the ultimate compliment: she asked me to volunteer my time in the clinic on days when they are low on new trainees. I'm that good.

My schedule allows me to put in a few hours on some mornings, since I'm seeing clients in the evenings. I signed up to needle one such morning in the near future, and as I get adjusted to my job -- where they threw five new clients at me today; that's what happens when you're late to team meeting -- I'll be able to manage more clinic days on a semi-regular basis. I'll keep my skills sharp (no pun intended) and the clinic will be well served.

A clinic client gave me another, slightly less appropriate compliment. Sometimes clients come into the clinic, size up the trainees, and pick one to work on them, especially if they have experience with that trainee. I've got a few fans, other trainees have theirs. One middle-aged Latino pointed at me, and, silly me, I thought he remembered how gentle I am with a needle.

After his treatment, though, as I was removing the needles -- again at his request -- he said, "Eres muy bonita, chica." I guess he prefers to work with the pretty acupuncturists.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The geezer from U.N.C.L.E.

Recently Shimona got a message on an online dating site from a guy screennamed Uncle:

I have met young people who are old and old people who are young! You should meet my 96 year old aunt. Her favorite song is Bob Dylan's "Forever Young".

I wonder why he isn't dating his aunt's friends. Shimona responded:

How can I make this clear to you? The thought of having a family with someone older than my father is horrifying. Kindly contact women your own age -- women in my age category are not baby machines, and we are not put on this Earth to have your second set of children. YOU ARE DOUBLE MY AGE!!!!!!!!!!!
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Nudnik can't let it go

Aaah! Dear Ayelet!
Your expressive language is always guaranteed to raise a smile

I didn't even have to mention your name (originally) and you knew I was referring to you!
This kind of perception of yours must come with old age, but be careful you are about to enter that age group that has become such a source irritation [sic.] or will you decide like many of the gentler sex to remain your age for the foreseeable future?

I am sincerely saddned [sic.] at your experiences with gentlemen of a more mature disposition, [sic.] they deserve your sympathy not your wrath after all wasn't it some obscure Chinese philospher [sic.] who once said,
"Experience is like a comb that Nature gives you ……….
when you‘ve grown bald!"!

Gevalt. Lo-ser. I shouldn't respond, but if he's going to bring it, it's brought.

Nudnik, it doesn't take age to be wise to words like yours. You weren't exactly striving for subtlety.

I have no intention of lying about my age, ever, unlike many men on this site. I also don't intend to start a family with a man who's older than my father or young enough to be my son. I do feel sorry for men in their fifties who didn't manage to get married and have children, but that doesn't mean I'm willing to sacrifice my youth to them.

And as for your criticism that Yocheved's posts are hard to read... honestly, Nudnik, that's a bit of the pot calling the kettle black. Haven't you ever heard of spellcheck? It could correct your *numerous* spelling and grammatical errors.

I can't believe they printed it. Intact.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

I have an office

Many things to love about my new job. I have an office, for one thing. With a computer, a phone, a bookshelf, and a lot of white wall space I'll cover eventually. A little too much A/C, but better too much than too little. And I saw seven clients. Whew. That helped me learn the layout of the office suite, because clients have to be walked to and from the reception area.

I also like the people I'm working with, and apparently they like me. Everyone is very friendly. The executive director apologized in advance for any tantrums he might throw and I might get caught in. He's kind of a drama queen, but very nice. My supervisor is very cool, and so is the deputy director. I still don't have everyone's names down, but I'm getting the hang of things. Their filing and computer systems seem pretty idiot-proof.

I'm not going to write about my clients, because they didn't ask to be blogged about. But I enjoyed meeting them, and I think I'm going to enjoy working with them.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Shavuot was fine

Didn't stay up all night learning or meet the man of my dreams, but I did hang out with friends and survive intense heat. Although my cute new shoes gave me blisters. Today's my first day at work -- wish me luck!
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, June 08, 2008

It gets better

Apparently Nudnik thought he'd try to have the last word:

I cast my bread upon the waters, and lo and behold what a catch!
And at the first attempt as well!

Yocheved: I wonder do you speak to your Medical [sic.] Practioner [sic.] or your Bank [sic.] Manager [sic.],
in the same way you have expressed yourself to me and the countless other correspondents on the forum?
Is every encounter for you a chance to evangelise [sic.]?

And to dear old Ayelet,

As William Shakespear [sic.] once wrote,

"Me thinks [sic.] the lady doth protest too much"

Chag Somayach & Good Yom Tov

Can't let that go unanswered. I doubted they'd print it, but responded nevertheless:

Actually, Nudnik, the correct quote is, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." Furthermore, it's meant ironically, because the line is spoken by Gertrude, whose conscience is meant to be piqued by the play-within-a-play. (Along with Claudius' conscience, of course.)

But leaving that aside... for a long time, I've had a strong sense that men two decades my senior were inappropriate matches for me -- that we simply couldn't understand each other and get along. I am very grateful to you for proving that truth beyond all contradiction.

Even if you throw utter nonsense upon the water... somehow the right message comes out.

Amazingly, they posted it uncut.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Frumster Forum Friend

I post regularly on the Frumster forums, and a new person who joined, a woman named Yocheved, liked my posts and decided to start weighing in herself. Her posts had a poetic quality because they were written on lines of uneven length. I thought she did that for dramatic effect, but it turned out that she posts from a mobile device and never knows how much space she has on a line.

Anyway, she and I contrived to meet and we chat on the phone from time to time. She's a special, spunky, strong woman, so we get along really well. Yesterday she called to wish me a good Shabbos and to warn me that a man 20 years my senior -- call him "Nudnik" -- had inveighed against both of us in the forum topic "Expressing Yourself." Curious, I logged on:

How to express oneself?

Well one way according to one of your most verbose correspondents it is to have an opinion on every single subject posted on Forum and reply in the form of an avalanche of religious platitudes more suited for a synagogue pulpit than an informal forum.

The other way for another regular female contributor is to be provocative and antagonistic at every opportunity.

Are we to believe that these kinds of correspondence are the most efficacious way to attract the opposite sex? I DON'T THINK SO!

In case you're wondering, the first diatribe refers to her, the second to me. Yocheved posted:

To Nudnik: as for your attacks on individuals and their respective
freedom of speech I can only say
that "something is seriously wrong with this (your) courts
interpretation of the constitution."
Hatzlacha in finding someone with no opinion and no thought processes of their own and G-D
forbid that they should be in possession of a Jewish soul replete
with its "platitudes"
I suggest that you hurry to deliver your next attack as I am
leaving Frumster at the end of this month (nothing personal I have a book to write IY'H)
and I wouldn't want you to be in mid diatribe with no answer as that would be bad for your shidduchim.
Now with that said:
Know that there is a "lid for every kettle" and yours IS out there
& I bench you to find her soon.

I liked what she said, but you know me -- I have to have my say too:

Funny how threatened some men are by women who speak their minds.

If such men -- many of whom belong to an earlier generation -- find such women unattractive, it must be a tremendous relief to the women, who won't have to worry about rebuffing any unwanted advances.

I didn't think Frumster would post it, but they did.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Friday, June 06, 2008

They miss me

Got an email from the social worker with whom I started the substance abuse treatment group at my internship:

Congratulations on your new job! That is great news.

I also wanted to let you know that we had our first group of the second series of the Breakfast Club and many of the members present (we had 5 show up first day, 3 old, 2 new), mentioned how much they missed you and appreciated all of your hard work and support both in and outside of the group. I couldn’t agree with them more. I wish you the best of luck with your new job and just know that the Breakfast Club continues to live on, and would not have been possible without you.

"The Breakfast Club" was my idea. Not just the group, but also the name. I thought it would be nice to have a name for the group that didn't explicitly reference substance abuse treatment. I didn't think the clients would recognize the allusion, but the other workers did and loved it.

One of the clients upgraded the name to "The Morning Dawn Breakfast Club." I love working with people who have schizophrenia. It's a terrible disease, I wouldn't wish it on anyone, but the way they think and express themselves is fascinating. That's the one drawback of my new job, not working with anyone with a "severe and persistent mental illness." Rather a draconian term, but frequently used in reference to people who spend a lot of time in hospitals, homeless shelters, and, increasingly, prisons.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Should I tell him how unattractive this is?

I logged onto a dating website and saw that someone eight years my junior had looked at my profile. Curious, I looked at his. This is what he seeks:

A girl who is pretty, smart, and wants to get married. Please have a picture on profile. Due to my work schedule can't spend much time on line serching [sic.]. So don't hesitate to write me, may be [sic.] we [sic.] ment [sic.] to be togather [sic.]. Please note, do not contact me if you are old or divorced.


Today was my second-to-last day at the acupuncture clinic. I go back next Friday to finish, and my job starts on Wednesday. It' s been a really nice day. I decided to try the acupressure beads again, and today they're working with me, not against me. Maybe because my job stress is dramatically lessened -- who knows. But I feel good.

I also sucked up to the beta acupuncturist in a big way, so now she likes me again. It wasn't hard; I focused on what I've learned from her, which is actually quite a lot. I also went out for a vegan lunch with my acupuncture study buddies and we had a terrific time.

I'm feeling good. I feel lucky to have taken this training, and gotten my job, and gone to my school -- despite the internship department. My life feels like it's falling into place.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Acupuncture mastery

I haven't mastered the ancient and highly effective art of acupuncture. However, I've mastered the limited protocol we use to treat substance abuse. I have clients who expressly request that I needle them when other students are also available, and who shake my hand and murmur, "Que Di-s te bendiga" when they leave the room. Today I needled a graduate of the program, who's had hundreds of treatments, and he said, "You got a nice soft touch!"

Unlike psychotherapy, I can orient clients to the protocol and give them a treatment entirely in Spanish. (My first client had to remind me of the word for kidneys, riƱones, but I remembered liver: higado.) This is useful when the only other students in the room can't speak anything but Mandarin, Swedish, and English.

I've written before about the way mastery and competence can elevate mood. Now I have more options. I don't have to create a PowerPoint presentation or edit somebody else's. I can put five needles in the right ear, five needles in the left, and watch a person relax. I'm good at this, and I didn't think I would be. That's a pretty awesome feeling.

I'm almost resigned to having another birthday soon. Between graduation, my new job, and my new skill, I'm pretty happy, even though my knees are killing me. Fortunately, a guy I met who was a week ahead of me in the training program is a licensed acupuncturist, and his office isn't too far from mine. As soon as I'm settled into a routine, I'm going to him for knee therapy and weight loss support.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Forgot to mention

You know how some workplaces make you wait between one to four months before they start your benefits? The last place I interviewed made you wait three full months -- so if you started in mid-June, say, you wouldn't have health insurance until October.

Well, my agency starts health insurance and other benefits the same day you start work.

The same day. I was destined to have this job.

I acupunctured two Facebook Friends tonight. Interestingly, both felt something -- a rush of blood, a flush of heat -- in their left ears, but not their right ears. I'm going to ask the trainer about that tomorrow -- if that's random or typical.

I was careful to tell them that the needle hurts going in and then stops hurting. If it keeps hurting, it's in the wrong spot. I know this all too well because I let a new student practice on me and every single needle hit a nerve. I bore the pain while the trainer pointed out -- in excruciating detail -- where she went wrong with each point, and then meekly asked to have the needles taken out. My ears hurt for about 45 minutes, and also bled; they usually don't.

I put up with the discomfort because one of the trainers was annoyed with me. I've taken on something of a leadership role in the clinic -- making sure each student gets to practice and scanning the room to make sure the clients are comfortable. When I told Jens and the other students that my new job will entail me supervising counselors who don't have master's degrees, Jens' face immediately took on an expression that clearly meant, "Oh, you're going to be good at that, and you're going to like it." I said as much to him, and he agreed, laughing. I laughed too. It's good to be able to laugh at yourself.

Somehow the trainer picked up on my bossiness -- one of the students in my class is ambidextrous, and I told him he could try needling me with his left hand. The trainer got miffed, because apparently I was supposed to let the new student butcher me. She told the ambidextrous acupuncturist to practice on her, not me, and said, in a voice dripping with politeness, "Ayelet, I don't understand why you don't want a treatment."

"Oh, no, it's fine," I said. It won't do to piss her off. Jens, who is very intuitive, thinks she's very insecure and was posturing to secure her position as alpha acupuncturist -- or beta acupuncturist, I guess, since she's not the main trainer. (Thank goodness.)

So I let the student needle me -- and I guess it was my karma to receive the worst treatment ever. And of course I'll have to let her practice on me again, because I don't want her to think she can't learn this technique. If I can, anybody can. But I'm going to ask the alpha acupuncturist if I can ask this student to take out the needles when they hurt after the initial stick.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


I am happy to report that after a 2-1/2 hour interview process, during which I made three people laugh and wrote up an imaginary treatment plan, I was offered a job. I'd tell you more about it, but I'm exhausted after needling clients all day and interviewing all night.

It's a VERY cool agency, the employees are super (who can't love a man who says, "We've been interviewing for weeks, and you're the only person we've met who's got both the passion and the credentials for this job"?), and they're paying me MORE than I asked for. (I should have asked for a lot more...)

What a huge relief! Prof. Worried sent a nice little note:

Congratulations!!!! I knew you would rise above many others. Best of future luck to you. Let me know how I can help you.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, June 02, 2008

High on qi

That's not a typo. Qi is the Chinese word for life force. Acupuncture, according to Chinese tradition, helps keep qi flowing throughout the body. Qi blockage can cause all sorts of imbalances and ailments, from infertility to insomnia, back pain, and indigestion. Western science has been unable to isolate qi, but western science has also been forced to admit that acupuncture works.

I'm being trained in a very limited treatment protocol, which helps people with addictions detox and sober up. It's very relaxing; trainees take a number of treatments so we know how it's supposed to feel, and we practice on each other before we work on clients. We put the needles in the clients' ears and watch them nod off and drowse. When the room is full, it's very serene.

So today I was needling away, and I saw that Jens, a fellow trainee -- a Swedish massage therapist who looks like Ewan MacGregor and wants to start a sideline in smoking cessation -- wasn't interested in needling any more clients.

"Are you okay?" I asked.

"I'm not sure," he said. "I was fine this weekend, and I practiced on a bunch of my friends. But today I'm feeling kind of jittery. I feel like I'm being affected by their qi, somehow."

"Boundaries," I told him. "I'm trained to keep my boundaries firm. You, as a massage therapist, are used to being in constant contact with your client. It's harder for you to keep up a boundary. If you're feeling jittery, then you need a treatment. Go swab your ears with alcohol."

I was actually kind of glad he'd taken himself out of the action, so to speak, because that gave me more ears to needle. I felt like I'd mastered something very different from what I normally do, something I wasn't sure I could handle. I felt good. Too good?

I started wondering if the practitioners were somehow absorbing the agitated energy of the clients, as part of our role as healers. I know that if I am calm and stable, it's easier to calm an agitated client; I did that at my internships and a few times in the acupuncture clinic, with first-timers. Most of the clients we practice acupuncture on are used to it, but some are still new, and almost all of them have somewhat raw emotions -- that's pretty much standard for anyone in early recovery from substance abuse.

So I try to be especially gentle and calm while administering acupuncture. But I wonder about the clients' energy, and how it affects me. Could it make me hypomanic?

Well, the cure for agitated emotions is pretty much the same as the cure for substance abuse. Not surprising, since blocking out dysphoria is one of the reasons -- the main reason -- people get high. So after I took the needles out of Jens, I had him put some in me. Not the same needles, obviously. They're used once and discarded.

(He also gave me a nice mini-massage in the afternoon, when it was quiet and nobody came in to be needled. I offered to help him publicize his new sideline; since I can't reciprocate with massage, I'll help him write and attract attention, something I know how to do quite well.)

Tomorrow I'm going to ask the instructor if that kind of energy transfer can happen between client and practitioner. The clinic also provides Reiki treatment, another form of energy healing. So they're into the concept of energy moving from person to person. I'm not so sure I believe in it, but I'll see a demonstration this week, so I'm reserving judgment.

I don't love everything about this training. Twice I was prevailed upon to put long-acting acupressure beads on the back of my ear. I first tried them on Wednesday, and by Thursday morning I was so upset that I took them off, because I had an interview Thursday afternoon. (Still waiting to hear from them....) I tried them again on Friday afternoon, and they basically ruined my weekend.

The bead expert said I must be going through a "healing crisis" and needed to work through the negative emotions. Not until I have a job offer in hand -- for that matter, not until I've gotten settled into a routine. I can't afford to get that upset. Yesterday I went to have my diplomas framed and, walking home, got steaming mad. No proximate reason for such strong negative emotions except... the beads.

I asked the trainer if the beads were safe for people who were taking psychotropic medications and she said they were, but I'm not so sure she was right. At least not in my case.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Low point

I don't know why I still feel so blue and hopeless. I'm having a hard time washing SB out of my hair. I'm so angry that he just stopped calling. I did stop poking him on Facebook, but I don't think that's sufficient provocation for a total disappearing act. And now I feel like it's too late. I'm too old and too fat. Who besides him and Captain Best Effort is going to find me attractive?

I am not looking forward to another birthday without a boyfriend or husband. A friend is allegedly arranging some kind of party or brunch in honor of my upcoming birthday and recent graduation -- I sent him a bunch of friends' email addresses -- but I haven't made any actual plans, and honestly, I don't want to. I don't feel like celebrating. What I've accomplished, what I have, isn't enough.

I did have a great time in San Francisco -- my aunt and cousin spoiled me rotten. My aunt bought me three tops to wear with a blazer I have and a cute little jacket. She bought me more fruit than three nieces could eat, and took me to a fantastic play. Yaffa took me to the best vegetarian restaurants in the city, introduced me to a bunch of her very cool friends, and we had some great conversations about our fathers, our mothers, and our sisters.

But I got all disregulated. I don't know whether it was the time change or being sick, but I didn't feel like doing much of anything. Driving on SF's hilly streets to Sunday brunch at a fancy vegetarian restaurant, I was hit with horrendous vertigo. I was already feeling anxious, and I have an incipient fear of heights. Driving up and (oh, Lord) down the roller-coaster streets was agonizing. I had to close my eyes and breathe slowly and deeply.

By the end of the vacation, I was grateful to go home. Even though I love my cousin and my aunt, and I actually loved my cousin's dogs -- well, two out of three. I didn't interact much with the paranoid Chihuahua (is that redundant?), but the dachshunds were adorable.

Now I'm trying to cope. Doing the training program, getting to the clinic at the crack of dawn. Going on interviews, hoping they like me. Watching my bank account dwindle, wondering how I'm going to pay my rent in July.

I've also pretty much decided that if I never get married, I'm allowed to die after my mother dies. I know she went through hell after my attempt, and I could never do that -- or worse -- to her again. But if it's just me, and I'm old and alone and in pain, I'm not going to suffer. I've suffered enough.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"