Thursday, July 31, 2008

First thing we do, let's kill all the psychologists

Psychologists, unlike psychiatrists, have not shied away from participating in the War on Terror. According to psychiatrictimes.com,

As the New York Times reported: "Pentagon officials said . . . they would try to use only psychologists, not psychiatrists, to help interrogators devise strategies to get information from detainees at places like Guantánamo Bay, Cuba."

The new policy follows by little more than two weeks an overwhelming vote by the American Psychiatric Association discouraging its members from participating in those efforts. Stephen Behnke, director of ethics for the counterpart group for psychologists, the American Psychological Association, said psychologists knew not to participate in activities that harmed detainees. But he also said the group believed that helping military interrogators made a valuable contribution because it was 'part of an effort to prevent terrorism.'

In contrast to the American Psychological Association's position, the American Psychiatric Association voted overwhelmingly to discourage its members from participating in any interrogation activities:

"No psychiatrist should participate directly in the interrogation of persons held in custody by military or civilian investigative or law enforcement authorities, whether in the United States or elsewhere. Direct participation includes being present in the interrogation room, asking or suggesting questions, or advising authorities on the use of specific techniques of interrogation with particular detainees."

This policy was based on a tradition of medical ethics reaching back to the Hippocratic oath and its fundamental principle to do no harm. Similarly, the AMA adopted a prohibition: "Physicians must not conduct, directly participate in, or monitor an interrogation with an intent to intervene, because this undermines the physician's role as healer."

So the psychologists who teach or studied at The Bad Place -- Dr. Jerk, Dr. Freud, Dr. Dragon, Dr. Octopussy, Dr. Arnold, and Dr. Incompetent -- were the rule, not the exception! Do you need any more proof that psychologists are evil and unethical? Thank Gd I'm a social worker!!!

I'd write more, but I'm afraid that three blog posts in one day is a symptom of hypomania.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Zippidy-doo-dah

The great thing about going to a newly certified acupuncturist is, he's not set in his ways. He likes to experiment. Spike hit me with a bunch of new points today, and I don't know why, but I was euphoric all day, even though my knees were a little achy. I literally felt like singing and dancing, skipping and twirling. I couldn't, of course, since I had to go to work. Also, it almost felt like the verge of hypomania, so I didn't want to get too energized, because depression follows hypomania like toadstools follow rain.

I really wasn't in the mood to do therapy, but I did it. Interestingly, a bunch of my clients failed to show up. Normally I'd be really annoyed about that, but instead I felt a little relieved. I met a friend who also works in the area for lunch and did a relaxing acupuncture treatment on him, which he enjoyed.

Not a bad day at work.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Jewish. Men. SUCK.

A Jewish stand-up comedian who's one of my Facebook friends has a few videos posted on Facebook. Let's call him "Lame-O." Part of his routine is complaining about being single, dating, and how tough it is to set up his female friends, because his male friends want to know why he isn't dating them. So he says, "I have to say, 'Oh, I'm only into ugly, awkward chicks.'" It's a pretty funny bit. So I wrote on his wall:

just saw your Craig Ferguson video -- I'm ugly and awkward, why haven't you asked me out? ;)

He responded:

Thanks for watching it! You are probably to [sic.] sane to go with me anyway.

Dude. Give me a CHANCE!

I'm a substance abuse therapist. Insanity is my bread & butter.

No response. Is it any wonder the guy's still single?

Meanwhile, a guy from WALES has been pursuing me. Not Jewish, of course, but if he ever comes to NYC we're going to have coffee so I can listen to his accent.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What I fear the future has in store

I'm not the only person wondering who would take care of me when I'm old and frail. Apparently many people are "Single, Childless and Downright Terrified." And most of them don't have a history of major depression or bipolar disorder, which get dramatically worse as the brain ages.

Another reason I think I'll need to cap my life after a certain point. For the record, this doesn't make me suicidal. I don't want to die now. But I just don't want to live utterly alone and in horrible emotional and physical pain.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Jinx

I should never have written that I had such a good day. I woke up at 4 a.m. just now with knee pain. Not as bad as it's been in the past, though. I took the acupressure beads off the backs of my ears yesterday because they were falling off and didn't replace them -- apparently I don't sleep as well without them.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Why am I supposed to help this guy?

My shadchanit friend Rochel got the idea that I wanted to start setting people up. I tried to form a shidduchim group on Facebook, but it never really went anywhere. Sometimes I try to set people up, but nothing's come of it so far.

Out of the blue I got this email on FB:

Hi Ayelet,

Rochel mentioned that you have some Modern Orthodox friends you're trying to set up, who I might be a good match with, and that I should get in touch with you to see. If that's the case, I can send you my dating profiles, etc.... Just let me know -- thanks! !

All the best, Jared

Well, I guess I could try.

sure, send it along and I'll do my best

He responded:

Great--thanks!!

About Me
Two cooks together make the best broth--and I'm looking to start using my kitchen more often. I'm passionate about living a rich, purposeful life that allows me to cultivate my mind, body, and soul--and no less about pure fun and joy and exploration, and spending a few weeks every year traveling, living out of a backpack and grappling with a foreign language or two, and just seeing what the day brings. Outside of work (I'm incredibly fortunate to have my dream job as a professor of writing and literature), I spend my week connecting with family and friends while balancing learning (violin, Torah, languages, martial arts…), relaxing at home, music and reading and film and art, and community involvement. My ideal weekend would begin with our intimate, restorative Shabbat together, which would wind up in our Saturday night date--dinner, a walk, a play, a stargazing picnic in the summer, a baseball game; any of those or just staying home with each other would be perfect with the right woman; and Sunday would bring sleeping in, yoga, brunch, maybe a movie.... I prefer conversations that are aimed at understanding the present or creating the future to those that just tell stories from the past. I'm kind, genuine, and generous; I value depth and joy in all aspects of my life and relationships; I'm contemplative and dynamic, creative and reverent, positive and realistic, serious and spontaneous, and you can depend on me.

My perfect first date
We have a conversation--either while sitting in an intimate café or while taking a walk through a park or a museum--after which we want to see each other again, to learn more about each other, to share another experience and another conversation. We sense real possibility, and we like that very much.

My ideal relationship
We are passionately and deeply committed to each other and to our life together, we are affectionate and playful with each other and we have fun together, we trust each other deeply, we share a vision for life and we are full partners in achieving that vision, we cook together, and being together makes each other and the world better.

My past relationships: I haven't yet found the right woman for me.

About You
Your greatest strengths are your warmth, your depth, your joie de vivre, your curiosity, and your drive for personal growth. You have a strong sense of self and purpose, you thrive on emotional and intellectual intimacy, and you are committed to building and nurturing a relationship, a family, a home, a community--a life--together.

My initial reaction?

Jesus Christ -- how am I going to set up this pretentious nitwit? I need concrete information, not flowery la-di-da stream-of-consciousness verbal diarrhea. But I can't tell him that.

Very nice, but I really need to know how old you are, where you're from, where you live now, whether you're willing to relocate, what your religious background/education is, what your secular education is, the age range you're comfortable dating, and the kind of school you'd want to send your kids to.

At least that sets some parameters. He wrote back:

Sure. I'm 31, divorced, no children, from New York City, live in Brooklyn, not willing to relocate, background: smorgasboard/traditional, now Modern Orthodox, PhD in Sociology, looking to date 25-31, not sure about what kind of school for the children. What else can I tell you? Just let me know, and thanks again.

Now that just pushes my buttons. Men who don't date slightly older women deserve to be single. They deserve to die alone, if you really want my opinion. Especially if they're divorced.

Sorry, I don't have too many friends who are younger than you are, and as a general matter of principle, I don't set up men who aren't willing to date women a few years older than they are.

Good luck.

He responded, "Good luck to you too." I guess he's polite, at least.

I'm going to have to send this exchange to Rochel. I can't be bothered with nitwits like this. Especially when I'm still single and no one is helping me find a match.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

A day without pain

Today was remarkably free of physical and emotional pain. My knees, neck, shoulders, back, and every other part of me didn't hurt. My boss gave me plenty of feedback with little criticism. I had fun with my co-workers and I kicked ass with my clients -- as a therapist, of course. I honestly can't remember the last day that went this painlessly.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, July 28, 2008

What the F@*% is wrong with Jewish guys?!

I slept great last night, no terminal insomnia, so I can't possibly be depressed. Of course, I inserted an acupuncture point into my yintang or "third eye" -- the point between my eyebrows -- for about 20 minutes, which Spike taught me calms the spirit and aids sleep. And I did take one tiny clonazepan.

I woke up to a message from a random stranger on Facebook. He's from Great Britain, has a high school education, and, most relevantly, isn't Jewish. I have no idea how he found me, but this is what he wrote:

Soz i think your gorgeous beautiful and all that is pretty x x

Why don't random Jewish guys ever write that to me? A few months ago a guy from Gibraltar started offering to leave the Church and become Jewish so we could be together, because I was so beautiful and smart and funny. What is wrong with Jewish guys?
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Down but not out

Went for acupuncture this morning and felt great. Calm, relaxed, knees less achy. My acupuncturist -- I think I'll call him Spike -- even asked me to give him an ear treatment before I left, which is a huge compliment. (He winced as I inserted each of the points, which kind of surprised me -- during acupuncture training they stick you everywhere, even in the corner of your eye -- but he said I hit the right spots, so I guess I still got it.)

But then I had a rough day at work and just felt like an idiot. I'm tired of screwing up stuff that nobody showed me how to do, and I'm sick of office politics. Now I'm down.

At least I'm not anxious. Spike said that when he was being treated for anxiety -- with acupuncture, of course -- he found himself feeling a little low as the excess energy was removed from his system. I tried to be mindful as a Buddhist monk about the situation, recognizing that sad feelings come and go.

It didn't help much; monks have much more mindfulness practice than I do. I tried not to cry on the subway, but I wasn't entirely successful. But I was able to recognize that it was sadness, not depression. I didn't want to be dead. I don't want to be dead. I'm just tired of not being happy, of feeling alone and untouched and uncomforted. I'm just not getting enough positive reinforcement.

Then I got home and found a huge, disgusting dead roach in the bathtub, and had to clean it up myself. I hate being single.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, July 20, 2008

How has GG changed?

I'm not the only one who's gained weight in the interim. The Gorgeous Genius is still cute, though -- like a pudgy Joaquin Phoenix in Gladiator. He says I'm zaftig, approvingly. He still fondly remembers the sweater I wore on our first date.

But he's no longer seriously looking to get married. Not ruling it out, but living more like a typical Upper West Side guy -- for the moment, for fun. I'll probably see him again, but I don't think it's going to go anywhere. No great loss -- he still wins every argument, which is still infuriating.

It's sad, though. He thinks he missed out on so much fun by being a good shomer negiah boy, and now he wants to make up for lost time. Like RD-SOB. The irony is, both of them would have more fun if they settled down with a nice girl who really loves sex. Like, I don't know, Ayelet.

But I'm not going to tell him that. I'll just use him, and vice versa, till something better comes along.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Okay, he's officially six minutes late

Was he making plans with me just so he could stand me up and get revenge on me for breaking up with him? He has my cell phone number but he hasn't called.

Eight minutes late.

There he is! Stay tuned....
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

The gorgeous genius

About four years ago I went out with a gorgeous guy nine years my junior who was phenomenally brilliant and incredibly sweet. He won every discussion/argument we had without ever getting ruffled, which was very annoying. He was a physics major at an Ivy League school, a tremendous gemara kop who hadn't yet decided what he wanted to do with his life. He was also a few notches above me in terms of hashkafa.

I thought I needed someone more stable and more at my religious level, so I dumped him and started dating G. I. Josh. We all know how well that went. I saw the Gorgeous Genius (GG) online every once in a while -- he'd visit my Frumster profile every so often -- and I'd wonder how he was.

Last week GG emailed me asking if I could write some press releases for his company, since I used to be in PR. I wrote back apologizing for not having the time to do that, having started a new and exciting career. For some reason, I decided to search for him on Facebook, and when I found him, I Friended him.

When I met him, GG lived in New Jersey with his parents. But according to his Facebook profile, he was living on the Upper West Side. That, coupled with his casual allusion to his "company," made me think maybe he was a little more settled these days. So I sent him a little email:

didn't know you were in my neighborhood... we should hang out sometime

He responded:

Yup, for a while now...there are a lot of things happening in my company now so I'm pretty busy, but maybe. I'm not quite the same person I was a few years ago, just so you know...

That's suggestive. I wrote back:

sounds VERY intriguing... why don't you buy me a drink and tell me all about it?

I'm not a very patient person, so when I hadn't heard from him in a few days, I thought he might be too busy to check Facebook. I sent another message to his regular email:

don't know how often you check Facebook... ... but I was VERY intrigued to hear that you're not quite the same person you were when I first knew you. Why don't you buy me a cup of coffee and tell me all about it?

He finally responded on Friday:

Sorry, I was on a business trip and haven't caught up with my correspondence...

So first you want to meet for a drink, and now coffee? I fear the next epistle will involve milk and cookies...

I'm not busy Saturday night if you want to catch up, though I'm not sure if I should be flattered or insulted to have piqued your interest in such a way...

He's flirting with me! Okay, how to undo the damage...

Please don't be insulted. You've always held my interest. There aren't many people who always win an argument with me.

I'm also free Saturday night. If you prefer, we can go for a drink. Although my favorite snack is milk and graham crackers.

Which is true.

I'll defer judgment...

Say drinks@9:30 tomorrow night? You can pick the place, though I'm not familiar with any that have a milk and graham cracker special, I suppose you could BYOMAGC.

This is fun! But 9:30? Shabbat's not over till 9:15.

9:30 is cutting it a little close after motzei shabbat -- it's going to be a very hot day Shabbos, and I think I'll want to take a shower before I see you. (Are you still shomer shabbat, or is that part of the big change in you?) How does 10:00 sound? I don't know of any milk and graham cracker places, so let's go to a bar. There are dozens in the neighborhood -- when you pick me up we can stroll down the nearest avenue and choose one.

If he's no longer shomer shabbat, then I'll have a drink with him, but it won't go any further.

Don't recall mentioning a big change...though of course my perspective is a little suspect.

I'll pick you up then, but I don't know where you live.

I sent him my address, adding:

I can't wait to hear all about the moderate change in you. See you at 10 tomorrow night.

And he wrote back:

Okay, see you then.

--GG "The very model of a moderately changed individual"

Brilliant, gorgeous, gainfully employed, and funny. I hope he still thinks I'm pretty. Stay tuned.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wrecked

It's nice when your clients show they appreciate you, even when they can't do it directly. I have one client who's extremely guarded and hard to read. I see him in individual sessions and two groups I facilitate. I asked him if he wanted a counselor switch, since seeing anyone for therapy three times a week is a little much (unless you're an analyst, which I am not). He looked shocked and said, "Why would I want to do that?!" This week, he made a point of asking me how I was doing and participating actively in every group. I wasn't fishing for his appreciation, but it still felt nice.

I especially appreciate the appreciation when I'm feeling incompetent, and that's lately. I'm still nerve-jangled and anxious. At various points today, for no reason at all, I felt like crying. It was difficult to listen to and focus on my clients (and those of the counselors who are out, whom I was covering). Thank goodness I see the acupuncturist tomorrow.

One trick I'm trying to remember is, when I don't know what to say in response to something a client says, just reflect it back. That usually keeps them talking and draws out more information. Reflect, summarize, repeat.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Acupuncture anxiety

"Miss Ayelet, you buggin' out on me!"

So spoke my client -- my sixth but not last of the day -- on Thursday afternoon. I was dithering. I couldn't think straight. I put a box on my chair and then tried to sit on it. I couldn't remember anything about him (which offended him greatly -- he's rather a narcissist and likes to think I remember everything that he says in our sessions).

Having to facilitate group anger management therapy that evening was torture, especially since they'd been so rambunctious last week. They were more decorous this week, but not especially appreciative of the material, which was frustrating for me. I feel like my clients are really missing out right now, I just don't know enough about what I'm supposed to be doing.

Earlier that day, I wrote down everything about myself on three sheets of detailed paper for my friend the acupuncturist, whom I met while doing my acupuncture detox training. His office is near my office, and his rates are very reasonable. After he went over every personal detail of my body and my life -- the color and frequency of my periods, the consistency of my bowel movements, all my various injuries and ailments -- he stuck needles in my knees and various other points, to heal my injuries and help me lose weight. The knees felt better, but my nerves were jangled all day, which made being a therapist incredibly difficult.

I can't imagine that knee treatment would attack my nerves, so it must have been the weight loss points. I didn't feel like eating anything, but that's not healthy either. Today I put some acupressure beads on a point on each ear to soothe my spirit, which seems to have helped a little. Next week I think I'll pass on the weight loss points.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, July 07, 2008

I feel sorry for my downstairs neighbors

I hope they don't hear me stumbling around at 3 a.m. when my knees wake up screaming and I can't sleep. Of course, when I was hypomanic and inviting strangers over for raucous sex at 3 a.m., I wasn't this considerate. But that's in the fairly distant past. And of course, NYC apartment turnover being what it is, those neighbors are long gone. Fortunately.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Good morning, kneeache

These past few damp days in NYC have been murder on my knees. I've been swigging a lot more tramadol and ibuprofin than usual, but I'm still in a great amount of pain. Which wakes me up (and keeps me up) at about 3 a.m.

There's not a lot to do in my apartment at 3 a.m. Even if I were inspired to clean, which I'm usually not, I can't because it would probably wake up my neighbors. I've read all of my fun books, and at 3 a.m. I'm rarely in the mood to read about psychology or social work.

So usually I go online, and lately I've been doing a little shopping. When I say "little," I mean less than $250 since June 30:

* a skirt from Petite Sophisticate, $16.44 (including s/h)
* 2 dresses and a skirt from Target, $50.47 (free s/h after $50)
* a webkinz for Oedipus' birthday, $11.90 ($5.95 for the black lab, $5.95 s/h)
* acupuncture needles and acupressure beads, $56.35 (including tax & s/h)
* 3 tops and 2 dresses from Chadwick's, $61.45 ($35 dress for $17.49!)
* shirt from Classic Closeouts, $8.99 (free s/h for July 4th)
* Dan Savage's latest book for $1.40, used ($3.99 s/h)

All of my bills are paid, and I've finally got an income. So I'm not too worried about this little shopping spree, because the sums aren't large and I really do need more work clothing, after more than two years out of the work force and much weight gained. But part of me wonders if the shopping and my recent irritability are due to a resurgence of hypomania. Fortunately, I see Dr. Roda in two weeks.

Internet shopping is great because it doesn't require me to try clothing on in front of three-sided mirrors. The problem with internet shopping, however, is the delayed gratification. Because I tend to shop in bursts, I'm impatiently waiting for a bunch of things to arrive and I don't have anything new to enjoy. There's not much good shopping in the district where I work, so I can't really shop on my lunch hour.

I'm going to try to get some acupressure for my knees when my favorite Chinese massage place opens in a few hours. On the way there or back, I might look around, but shopping on the Upper West Side is getting much to rich for my blood. I miss working in the financial district, which had fantastic shopping. It made my boring job there almost bearable for five years.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Taking offense

I've been noticing lately that I take offense to things pretty easily, which is a good way to be offended and upset a lot of the time. It's a concept I plan to explain to my easily offended anger management group, and it's something I need to work on myself. Because I got very offended very quickly twice today, and I don't think the people who offended me are entirely at fault.

The first was Rabbi Enthusiastic, who runs a beginners' minyan -- a place where people new to traditional Judaism go to pray, where the organizers provide a lot of explanation and encouragement -- at one of the local synagogues. I usually don't go because 1) I'm not a beginner and 2) I find that a lot of men I've dated tend to go there to troll for beginner girls, and I am usually not in the mood to see them. But my good friend Chaya was in town and likes to daven there because there's a lot of singing and spirit, so I agreed to go there and meet her.

She didn't show up until services were over -- her parents live in town, and her mother likes to show her off at their synagogue when she visits -- so I sat with some Facebook friends who were very nice to me, even though we don't really know each other terribly well. But Rabbi Enthusiastic totally blew me off, even though he constantly says that he wants to make his service a really friendly and welcoming place (which I haven't always found it to be).

In his sermon, which was about mitzvot that don't always have a clear rationale, like not eating pork or circumcision, Rabbi E said that sometimes Jewish sages have inferred reasons that support doing the mitzvah. In the case of not eating pork, part of the rationale is that pork carries trichinosis and other diseases. In the case of circumcision, Maimonides held that the procedure lowers the risk of venereal disease.

Well, modern science backs up Maimonides. Studies in Africa, where the Moslem part of the continent is circumcised and the Christian/animist part isn't, have shown that circumcision cuts the transmission rate of AIDS dramatically. So I thought I'd share that information with the rabbi after services. He thanked me for sharing and then walked away -- without asking my name, if I was new to the minyan, or making me feel welcome.

So I was annoyed. I considered sending him an offended email, but then one of my Facebook friends hooked me up with an invitation for lunch. Which made me feel less ignored. Lunch was great except for one other guest: a guy I met on a phone sex line and slept with a few times when I was hypomanic. A very unpleasant and embarrassing blast from my sordid past. However, he was as eager to conceal that aspect of his life as I was, so fortunately the topic didn't find its way into the conversation. I decided to let go of my annoyance with Rabbi E.

After lunch it was raining, and I went to Alona and Adir's because they live closer to my lunch host than I do. Alona and Adir have two daughters, seven-year-old Batya and two-year-old Simcha. I have to admit, I'm closer with Simmi. She's more easygoing than her older sister, and she likes me more consistently. Whereas sometimes Batya will play with me and sometimes she won't, Simmi is always thrilled to see me.

I stopped by this morning before synagogue (it's on the way) to find out a good time to come over and play with the kids this afternoon, and Alona said, only half joking "You mean a good time to come play with Simmi. I know she's the only reason you come over here -- you can admit it."

Well, that's just not true. She's the only person over there who's always glad to see me, but I have really tried to spend time with Batya as well so she won't feel jealous. I guess I haven't been doing a good enough job of it, but I've been trying. I told Alona this, and to her credit she apologized. She told me to come over at about 3:30.

I went to synagogue and lunch, and it was raining on and off. So after we finished lunch at 2:20, I decided to walk to Alona's because if I didn't go there then, I wouldn't make it over there. If I went home and it kept raining, I'd stay home and isolate, and I didn't want to do that. I apologized for coming over early, but Alona said it was fine.

Simmi was napping and Alona was exhausted, so she went to lie down. Adir and I played Doll Doctor with Batya for a while, and then she'd had enough of playing with me and focused on Daddy. I offered to check on Simmi so that if she was up, Alona wouldn't have to get up.

"No, that's not necessary," said Adir firmly.

"Yes, because Mommy says --" began Batya.

"Batya, no!" said Adir quickly. He bent down and whispered to her. But it was pretty obvious what she'd overheard: Alona is annoyed at me, and it has something to do with how I act around Simmi. Kids pick up on this stuff, especially sensitive, smart kids like Batya.

I was offended, and annoyed at her earlier remark, so I went home. After all, I've babysat (free, of course) numerous times for Alona and Adir -- often, sadly, I'm not doing anything else on Saturday night. And I don't have kids, and I'm fighting with my sister, so I've got less access to my nieces and nephews. It seemed ungracious, ungrateful, and selfish. I was hurt because I usually don't bother to make plans for Shabbat -- it's hard to be alone, but it's harder to call people and beg for invitations -- and Alona had said I was always welcome in her home. Right then, I did not feel especially welcome.

But Alona works long hours, doesn't have all that much time with her own kids, and doesn't always get enough sleep. She's been a very supportive friend, and she's under a lot of stress lately. Nobody's perfect. Either I could continue to feel offended and angry at her, or I could get over it.

I opted for the latter.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Friday, July 04, 2008

I so don't deserve her.

Bless her generous heart, Dr. Meander got back to me virtually immediately.

Hi Ayelet,

Your situation sounds unrelentingly frustrating and my heart goes out to you. I do want to be of help to you. I am writing to you from [another state] on vacation. I'll be back the week of July 14, please give me a call and maybe we could set up a time to meet and talk. My number is 212 xxx-xxxx, my cell is 917 xxx-xxxx. I could meet with you at my office or we could talk by phone. Have a good 4th.

I feel enormously guilty for having judged her so harshly and quickly -- and wrongly. She wrote back to me while on vacation, and she gave me her cell phone number!

Dear Dr. M.,

I can't tell you how much I appreciate you responding to me when you should be sunning and enjoying yourself! Most of my job is really fun and interesting, and I get along well with most of my clients -- it's just this group that's driving me up a wall. My work schedule is hectic, but I'll give you my hours, and I'll call you after July 14 to set up a meeting. You can let me know what works for you. My office is close to all the subway lines (A/C/F/2/3/4/5), so I can meet you at your office within about 30 minutes before or after I have to be at work.

I really want to live up to this challenge and not surrender to it, and I need all the help I can get. I'm very glad you offered yours.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Not a difficult decision

So I'm playing Scrabulous on Facebook today, and FG IMs me:

FG: whats crackin?

Ayelet: went to the New-York Historical Society for the first time, with my friend and her family

got to hold and feed the baby


FG: sounds cool, did u actually breastfeed the baby?


A: of course not, he's on a bottle


FG: lol haha I wasn't sure so I asked


u said feed so usually it means breastfeeding with regards to babies


I'm so not going out with him again
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

My date with Facebook Guy

I think FG is, at bottom, a very nice person. (Certainly nicer than his brother, which actually isn't difficult.) But he's also completely feckless. He lives with his parents in Crown Heights -- he's kind of Modern Lubavitch -- which in and of itself is not a bad thing. But he said, "I didn't always live with them -- I used to have my own apartment in another part of Brooklyn, then I was in Florida for a while, and I came back about nine months ago."

"What were you doing in Florida?" I asked.

"Oh, you know... I needed a change of scene," he said evasively. Not a good sign.

Also, he came from the subway to pick me up. What's a guy in his late 20s who lives in Brooklyn (not Manhattan) doing without a car? How does he plan to take me home? How will we find a cab at that time of night outside Manhattan?

We had planned to see "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," and he was supposed to pick me up after work. He was 15 minutes late because he couldn't find my building. He works in some kind of business that uncovers assets, so it's not his first time going to the building, which is near the courts in one of the boroughs. He just didn't realize the address was the same building he's gone to dozens of times.

Whatever. We went to the movie theater, a few blocks away, and "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" wasn't playing. Fine, whatever, I can roll with it. We saw "Get Smart" instead, and it was awesome. So that was fine.

But I had to explain about 75% of the jokes and action to him.

"What did she say?" "What happened?" It's so annoying. I realize he's young, but I think he's not that bright. Very sweet, very cute (he sort of looks like his brother, but much cuter), but just not that smart or quick. And I need someone who is smart and quick. I can't see going through life explaining everything to my husband.

The world did get even smaller, though. Something I said to him triggered a memory, and he said, "Wait a minute... aren't you [clever screenname] on [dating website]?"

"Yes," I said.

"We chatted on there about a year ago," he said.

"You're the young guy from Florida!" I said. That was back in December 2006. I wasn't even a social worker then! He and I wrote back and forth a few times, then he stopped writing and I forgot about him.

But my picture on the dating site is the same as my picture on Facebook. It took him this long to recognize me?

We went to find some ice cream after the movie, and then he said, "So what's next?"

I'm a yekke. I like a man with a plan. I don't like a man without a plan. "Well, it's getting late," I said.

"How do you usually get home?" he asked. That bodes ill.

"I take the subway at [name of station]," I said.

"Have you ever taken it this late?" he asked.

"Uh, no," I said. Do not tell me you're not taking me home.

"It's probably pretty safe, right?" he said.

Do NOT tell me you're not seeing me home at 11 p.m. from the freakin' outer boroughs!!!

"Yeah, I think it's safe," I said.

"Okay," he said. "Do you have any plans for July 4?"

Not with a guy who doesn't see me home!!! "I'm supposed to take my niece to a museum," I said.

"Oh, okay," he said, and walked me to the subway station. "I had a great time tonight," he said, hugging me. He tried to kiss me, but he's a lot taller than I am so I leaned my face against his chest and he got me on the ear. (I will say this for him: he was clean and he smelled good.)

"Get home safe," I said, trying not to load my words with irony. "Thanks for the movie."

A person who does not take me home after the first date does not get a second. Yes, he's nice, and he finds me attractive. But that is not enough.

[While I was waiting for him in front of my building, a guy walked up to me and said, "Excuse me, are you Spanish?"

Interesting pickup line, and something I'm well used to hearing. "No, Italian," I said.

"You're beautiful!" he said.

"Thanks," I said. "I'm waiting for my boyfriend."]

Can you see why I am so sick of dating, and why I'm still single? He's not a bad guy, but he's just not the guy for me. So where the hell IS the guy for me, and how many yahoos do I have to date before I find him?

There's a clever Chinese proverb/curse that goes, "May you live in interesting times." I'm really tired of having such an interesting life.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Eating crow, again

Last night my anger management group was TERRIBLE. My group work professor, Dr. Meander, said that if we needed help or support once we found our first job, we could contact her. So I did:

Hi Dr. M.,

Happy fourth of July!

You said you wanted to be a resource for us when we started working, so I'm writing to ask for your help. I am a substance abuse therapist in a mandated program. I facilitate two groups, one relapse prevention -- mandatory for all clients -- and one anger management, which only some clients have to attend. I also have 29 individual clients (they're supposed to be reducing my caseload), some of whom are in my groups.

As you may surmise, the clients really do not want to be in the anger management group. Most of them have already had some other anger management treatment, although it does not seem to have had much effect. They don't see the point of this group, even though they are all -- in my opinion and the opinion of the program -- still VERY angry and not handling it very well. They resent the intrusion on their time, the 10-minute rule (if they arrive more than 10 minutes late, they can't come into group), my socioeconomic and alleged lack of understanding of their situation, etc. They think the CBT-based curriculum is pointless.

So they are very difficult to engage and manage, and last night was a disaster. One member threw a fit because I asked her to sign in when she came in (late), after I'd already greeted her in the reception area. She said I had no manners.

Two new members started griping about the program, not wanting to be there because they work hard all day, not like some people who only sit behind a desk. One would not stop complaining about how he wasn't getting MetroCards (which they only get after their Medicaid is active, and his isn't) and how I wouldn't see him after he blew off his appointment because he was moving and then came in, expecting to see me when I had other clients.

Another was angry because (after he skipped two individual sessions with me and one group) I contacted his probation officer, which I'm obligated to do. And they were all pissed about me enforcing the 10-minute rule, telling me that I'm new and other counselors let people in late all the time.


It just devolved into one huge bitch session, and I gave up on the lesson and let them complain, which I could tell frustrated the few participants who wanted to work on the lesson. I could sure use some help with this. I'm not sure how to prevent this from happening again. I know I forgot to reinforce the basic ground rules of confidentiality and respect for where people are at (not talking over each other or interrupting, and not bringing unrelated material into the group). But I felt like a complete idiot, and I could use some guidance.

Thanks, Ayelet

Ideally, I'll hear from her before I have to talk to my supervisor on Monday about this episode.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Can you tell I have bipolar from my Facebook status updates?

I realized today that I am very moody.

That probably doesn't come as a surprise to any of you, but it hit me suddenly today while I was outside walking to get my lunch. Beautiful day, I didn't feel overwhelmed and stressed because I'm starting to feel on top of things at work, and the morning started out great with me using really appropriate boundaries. A client asked me, "Are you Italian?" and I just said, "No." And didn't disclose another thing. I had to go tell my boss, who was very proud of me. So that put me in a terrific mood, and I had a great day.

[Another client called later today and said, "I need to talk to my counselor -- I can't remember her name, she's the little Spanish lady that started a few weeks ago...." When I shared that with the support staff, they were shocked to learn I wasn't Spanish. Apparently my Shakira imitation -- which I was inspired to do one afternoon when "Hips Don't Lie" came on the receptionist's radio -- is pretty convincing.]

So I realized that depending on how my day is going, my mood is wildly variable. A glance at my Facebook status updates kind of highlights that:

June 6, 4:56 p.m.: Ayelet is happy and content.

June 20, 4:11 a.m.: Ayelet hates insomnia.

June 24, 9:49 p.m.: Ayelet is shredded.

June 29, 8:15 a.m.: Ayelet is not in the mood.

June 30, 12:37 p.m.: Ayelet is frustrated.
10:16 p.m.: Ayelet is pissed off.

July 1, 9:30 a.m.: Ayelet is annoyed.
9:29 p.m.: Ayelet is in a good mood. Group went well, and I'm holding my own at work.

July 2, 10:06 p.m.: Ayelet is mellow.

I guess the take-home message is, if I post something really angry, dark, and despairing, everyone should probably wait a week or so before calling my psychiatrist.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Sad blast from the past

A few years ago I mistakenly posted a serious personal ad on craigslist and got nothing but sexual come-ons. Recently I received this message:

Hello 'Ayelet' - Well here's an odd lil' homage to the permanence of electronic communication.

I just came across a long series of emails that you and I exchanged some four YEARS ago. (An excerpt is below). At the time, you were, it seems, disillusioned with the caliber and quality of the frum men whose acquaintance you were making, and seemed very eager to meet someone of substance.

Very curious to hear if your prayers were ever answered...

I didn't want to write back and say, "No, they haven't been." It's so depressing. I've been dating for more than a decade, and I have nothing to show for it but a series of heartbreaks, rejections, disses, and losers. Not to mention the men that made plans and then stood me up.

Here's the excerpt:

Subject: I am *NOT* the bochur for you...(Craig's List)

...in no small part because I am definitely not tachlis oriented at this point in life, and, I'm perhaps ashamed to say, am so far removed from considering anything serious that I'd be more apt to go for the very things you cite and despise than
anything legit or kosher.

I *AM* however curious about one thing...forget the responses from goyim or (lehavdil) chilonim who make 'indecent proposals'...I'm curious to know how many ostensibly FRUM guys proffer such suggestions. Is it common? Do you get pics from Haredim with their hats on and their tzitzis flying in the wind...sans pants?

I'm very curious to know how semi-anonymous venues like Craig's List have penetrated the insulating wall of the frum community... Adam

Hi Adam,

I get plenty of obnoxious indecent proposals from allegedly frum guys. One asked me about my body and what kind of sex acts I like. Others said things like "I'm da rebbe and we can make lots of mamzerim." It can get pretty gross.

Ayelet,

Do you think they were legitimately frum, or perhaps guys who are off the derech...or knowledgeable Jews who know the lingo but were never really observant?


Adam,

They were on the derech. Just sleazy. You'd be surprised how many guys like that are out there. This is another message I just got:


no................u ve been around a long time we all know to stay away from you

Is it any wonder I've given up hope?
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"