Sunday, August 24, 2008

Worst compliment EVER

"Your eyes are so beautiful, so dark... like shit."

I went to the salon for a pedicure and met up with Alona's fashionista cousin Shaindy. Originally from Brooklyn, transplanted here a few years ago. She and I live about a block apart, move in the same circles, and go to a lot of the same parties. She was sitting in one of the other pedicure chairs when I walked in and chose a color. We ended up trading dating stories -- turns out she went out with RD-SOB after I did.

"He's not a bad guy," she said. "He's a really good father."

"He better hope no man ever treats his daughters the way he treated me," I said. "That would be a karmic bitch."

"I can top that," she said, and unfurled the abovementioned "compliment." Which apparently was paid to her on a date. By a guy who actually thought he'd get a second date.

I also met the lovely and brave Christa, another blogger in another pedicure chair. After Shaindy shared her "compliment," I said, "Well, that's going on the blog."

"Oh, you have a blog too?" asked Christa. We exchanged URLs. Click here to check her out. She blogs under her own name -- I'm impressed.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, August 23, 2008

So NOT into me

Shuli and I went back to the minyan where I met Chatich a few weeks ago.

"Let me hold the baby during kiddush, okay?" I asked her during musaf. "Chatich is here again and I need a conversation starter."

"Fine," she said. Baruch started nodding off.

"Can I hold him now?" I pleaded. "He's falling asleep and you won't be able to give him to me!"

"FINE," she said, and handed him over. He promptly fell asleep against my neck. Services ended, and I walked over to Chatich, who was disassembling and putting away the mechitza.

"Hi," I said coyly to Chatich.

"Oh, hey," he said. "Remind me of your name?"

"Ayelet. So... are you still having trouble sleeping?" I asked Chatich as he folded curtains.

"What? I never have trouble sleeping," he said. "I say the shma at night, and that keeps away the demons."

So much for my "I'll cure your insomnia through acupuncture" flirt idea.

"Good to know," I said. "How's everything else going?"

"Great," he said. "You?"

"I'm fine," I said. "Just passed my licensing exam."

"Congratulations. You work in substance abuse, right?" said Chatich. I concurred.

"It's an interesting population," I said.

"I would think they need a lot of gentleness," he said. "They've probably experienced a lot of stress and confrontation, most of them. So it's good you're working with them. You've clearly done a lot of work on yourself to be able to do that."

Wow. That's a lot he read into me, just because Baruch trusts me enough to fall asleep in my arms. I'd like to think Chatich's right.

And yet... I didn't get an interested vibe off him. Even after we knocked back a little Scotch at kiddush. I guess I'm not his type.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Friday, August 22, 2008

Licensed to Social Work -- 00debtor

I am happy to report that this morning I passed the master's-level social work licensing exam. Ruth was equally successful yesterday. Thank Gd she wanted to study with me.

I sent a little email around congratulating myself and heard back from several people, including, to my surprise, DOTS:

Was there _ever_ any doubt that you would pass? :-)

Best wishes, DOTS

I guess not all bureaucrats lose their sense of humor. Professor Supportive also weighed in enthusiastically:

WAHOO!! and a big congratulations -- with warmest regards, Lucy

I might get a raise, but even if I don't, it's a huge relief. Now on to my CASAC...
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Definitely money down the drain

YS was supposed to call tonight to make plans to go out on Sunday. The phone hasn't rung since I got home.

Whatever.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Probably money down the drain

YS doesn't seem ready to get married.

"I'm very young," he told me.

Well, duh. I saw your profile. "You contacted me on Frumster," I said, "so I assumed you were serious about marriage."

I don't think this is going to go anywhere. Still, he didn't want me to hang up on him and begged for the chance to go out. I guess we'll get together, but I don't think it'll end up being worth what I spent re-upping my membership.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

My target demographic

I let my Frumster membership lapse because I wasn't getting responses from men I found interesting. Then I got two emails from someone in my target demographic: Sephardic and 10 years my junior. So I re-upped and read them. One was just a missed IM. The other:

Hey,
How are you?
hope all is well, please look at my profile and let me know if you want to correspond.

Young Sephardi (YS)

Okay. I looked at his profile and he seemed decent. Works in computers. He did grow up in Israel, which usually scares me, but I decided to keep an open mind. He didn't have that much to say about himself or the girl he's looking for, but as a computer geek whose first language isn't English, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. His picture was password-protected, though.

Hi YS,

You seem like a nice guy. What is your photo password?

He sent it to me, and he's cute. Very cute. Fortunately not my toxic type.

so, tell me a little bit about u,

he wrote.

where do u live in the city? what do u do?
and..... i LOVE ur picture, u are very cute.

Not afraid to tell me how cute I am. I like that in a guy.

Well, I live on the Upper West Side. I work as a substance abuse counselor. It's challenging but I really love my job. No day is ever the same, and my clients are so hilarious. Usually without even trying to be ;)

I like your pics too ;) What kind of Sephardi are you? I really love Sephardim. They really know how to have a good time, they have such instinctive ahavat yisrael, and they have the BEST food.

This time he wrote me a real response.

ur work sound interested, lol :)
and u sound interested and so cute.

so i was born in Brazil, but when i was young we moved to Israel, and i grew up over there all my life until 4 years ago (moved to the states), i am Sepharadic, half from Spain and half from Syria, cute to hear that u love Sepharadim :) and yes, i know how to have good time, and... regarding the food, i know.... we do have the BEST food (better than gefilte fish..) lol

so, i will give you a mission, a small one :), what about dinner that... YOU will cook for me Sepharadic dinner (just a small one, but sepharadic, not too much spicy :), have u ever try? or u going to try first time for me :)

i will be out of town until Wednesday after noon, not will be able to see ur messages, but if you want, u can leave me ur number, and i will call u tomorrow afternoon, let's try to meet this Wednesday or Thursday night.

Have a great day, YS

Sigh. One of the problems in dating very young men is raising them to be men. I went through this with Facebook Guy.

Honey, you're very cute... but I don't cook for men until we've been dating a few months. You have to EARN that ;)

[I think that makes my point, in a nice way.]

I don't use too much spice, but I love cumin. Syrians are cool. Do you live in Flatbush? ;)

I like gefilte fish, but I was raised on it, so I know it's not for everyone. I promise not to cook that for the first meal I make you. Thursday night works for me, my # is 212-xxx-xxxx.

Have a nice day and enjoy your trip!

He's read that but hasn't responded. I guess I'll hear tonight if he's still interested.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"It's official, Ayelet: You're a slut."

That was Shimona's verdict, after I told her I'd gone out or hooked up with about 15 guys at the bangitout Tu b'Av party. Including RD-SOB, whom I actually met four years ago at the same party, and whom I assiduously ignored despite his efforts to meet my eyes. At one point I was standing within 10 feet of about five of them. It was a little discouraging.

I originally went to the party with Aviva, who is very shy, helping her work the crowd. I skipped dinner and had a beer, so I was in a good mood. I decided to teach her how to avoid, blow off, or cut off people she doesn't want to talk to -- a skill I call, "Say 'Good Shabbos' and keep walking." I use it at synagogue a lot -- when I see someone who wants to talk to me whom I don't care for, I smile, say "Good Shabbos," look away, and don't stop to talk to them. We did that with several people. She's starting to catch on.

Inevitably at these parties, I'm approached by the weirdest and most unattractive men. Fortunately, I'm good at rebuffing them. But the guys I'd like to chat up never seem interested. I don't know why that is.

After Aviva left the party I was hanging out with Shimona, who went off to talk to someone "for just a minute" and left me stranded with one of the 15. Not the nicest one, either. He and I dated briefly, then I broke up with him. So he told his roommate what a slut I was and how I couldn't get enough of him. Which I found out when I dated his roommate a couple years later.

I guess the party wasn't a complete failure because I got out, I got a few compliments on how pretty I looked, and I spent time with a number of friends. But it certainly wasn't a success -- I didn't give my phone number to anyone.

Most outrageous line of the evening: "I thought there would be more hotties here." Spoken by a would-be player in a wife-beater tank top. No need to wonder why he's sleeping alone these days.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Showered

Went to a great bridal shower today, for my sweet friend Ruth. She was glowing, which was nice to see; between studying for the licensing exam and planning her wedding, she's been totally stressed out lately. Plenty of food, really awesome champagne punch -- if I had to take one of the 15 urine tests I'll administer tomorrow, I'd be so positive. I almost managed not to feel jealous.

But not quite. One of the other guests and I decided that there should be showers for single women. Why should brides and expectant mothers get all the presents? Although I must say I'm impressed that Ruth gave all the guests a little sports purse and a heart-shaped ring holder. Favors. Classy.

I liked Ruth's friends. Well, most of them -- one seemed kind of snobbish, so I ignored her. But the rest were cool. And we decided that Ruth needs a bachelorette party -- blow off a little steam and really cut loose before the big "I-do". Since I have too much time on my hands, I offered to organize it -- another example of the selfish joy of giving I hope to experience by knocking myself out on others' behalf.

Now I have to get one of those fake tiaras with veils, ask Ruth to name a day and time, make an eVite, choose a venue (I'm leaning toward Hogs 'n' Heifers), and invite her closest friends. Hopefully we can get a critical mass together -- the wedding's just 4 weeks away.

I wonder if anyone will ever do this for me. The shower, the bachelorette party, the wedding.

I did decide, however, to do something about the guys who expressed interest in me yesterday. I rode home from the shower with a friend from social work school, and after discussing the bride and groom's romantic meeting, proposal, etc., the conversation turned to our own romantic lives, or lacks thereof.

"Lately, it seems like the only guys who pay me any attention are either married or more than 10 years younger than I am," I griped.

"Well, stay away from the married guys," she said. "But you look 23 -- so if a 23-year-old thinks you're awesome, go for it!"

In fact, a 23-year-old told me I was awesome just last night on Facebook. I met him at the Nachamu lunch, and the first thing he said to me was, "Hello -- you're so pretty!" About 30 seconds after I Friended him Saturday night, he IMed me and we chatted a bit.

So when I got home from the shower today, I issued a challenge:

Subject: so if I'm awesome....

...when are we going out?

xoxoxo Ayelet

Stay tuned. I know it's against The Rules, but I don't seem to be able to get men to ask me out unless I tell them to.

I'm also going to the bangitout tu b'av party. I'm wary of going -- that's where I met RD-SOB -- but I need to get out more.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Small comfort

I met a bunch of twentysomethings this Shabbos Nachamu. They told me I was pretty, and they thought I was their age -- or younger. But none of them actually asked me out.

I suppose that's just as well, since I don't think they'd want to marry someone more than a decade their senior. I certainly don't. But how do I go from flirtation to being asked out? None of them actually asked me. What am I doing wrong?
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ancient history revisited

I've just been reminded of a rejection from my distant past -- so distant, I'll call him the Akkadian. We met at a friend's wedding many years ago. He thought, "Gee, she's cute. Gee, she's mean." Did not think I liked him. The feeling was mutual -- I found him attractive but believed he wasn't interested.

About a year later, we met up at a Friday night dinner and ultimately spent the entire night talking. Toward dawn, after I'd regaled him with a few tales from my sordid past (not as sordid as it would be in a few years, but still rather sordid), he communicated a disinterest in dating me. I was offended and ignored him for several months, when I was taken to a party that happened to be in his apartment. We split a bottle of Absolut, got wretchedly sick, and I thought we'd made our peace. We were acquaintances after that, although not close. When I joined Facebook, we became Friends.

Recently the Akkadian started a blog and wanted people to comment on it. Being an accomplished blogger, I visited -- as Ayelet, so he didn't know who I was. The blog seemed meandering and pointless, and I left a few caustic comments. He sent me an email in response:

the first post of this blog explains its raison d'etre

why should you read it? well, aside from the possibility that i may be able to sneak in a chiddush or two among all the narcissistic ramblings, i would ask you to read it because i need critics

I gave him some feedback on internet writing and layout. He thanked me and said,

by the way... on a completely different subject/more serious note... we may have something to talk about.... i also have spent time on the other side of the locked psych ward door ...thank G-d the worst is long past but in any case i would be interested in access to your blog

This was while the blog was still invitation-only. After he read it, he wrote:

wow... any (other) superlatives for that kind of incessant public soul reckoning would just be cliched

That seemed a little over the top.

thanks, I think... "incessant public soul reckoning" sounds kinda narcissistic... see why I was critical of your blog? ;)

He responded:

Narcissists Anonymous: Hi, I'm Akkadian, and I don't care who you are.... i was actually being sincere... i was actually tooling with something "cheshbon hanefesh"-related, but that woulda just made me sound self righteous, and my (imaginary?) audiences tolerate my narcissistic ramblings more when I leave G-d out of it...so instead i just blabbered superlatives while i claimed not to be using any...

This is why I don't really like his blog. I have to read it three times to understand what he's getting at. Of course, his not knowing who I am inevitably led to:

Ayelet, you wrote: "It seems there's not a single, frum man out there who's currently willing to give me a fraction of the validation and respect that I get from my wonderful married male friends, Boaz and Dov. "

Irrespective of whether I failed to randomly hit on you (I am a Jewish "Guy" ("Jewish Man" is an oxymoron on the level of "Jewish Organization") and an UWS'er to boot...)...... I might surprise you regarding your above passage (challenge(?)... (I thought about whether your Zoloft/bed bon mot was a challenge, but I didn't wanna be that presumptuous))......

of course, if I fall flat on my ass I'll probably gain a less-than-flattering nickname that will be in the blogosphere forever (one that...but it's worth the risk......wanna meet up?

Well, now I get to stick it to him.

We've already met, and you weren't validating, because you weren't into me. I realize I had the advantage here, since I know who you are and you have no idea who I am. I promise not to give you any unflattering nicknames.

"Akkadian" isn't bad, right?

well...that explains how you got to my blog in the first place... am i that obvious? (dont answer that...i figure at this point it might be part of my charm, if not all of it...)

i actually thought i did know who you were...but the family info didn't match, so i cant even begin to guess (although it'll likely just hit me in the head one day)...

I should put him out of his misery.

Who did you think I was? And yes, I was informed about your blog, so I read and commented.

He guessed correctly. And wrote:

for the record (but NOT the blogosphere): not trying to validate, just clarify...if you remember (not that I expect you to...it was years ago) ... we spent almost 12 hrs talking (now I know why that's all we did, but i really didn't then)... and the (relative) disparity between our... ahem ..."social" experiences scared the shit outta me... and i didnt know why beyond just still holding onto some religiotic shana bet notion... i suspected there was something else at work, but i wasn't gonna admit that to myself, much less anyone else... but i gather you figured that out before i even did

You should never email anything to a blogger that you don't want blogged. Because when rejection -- fresh or revisited -- smacks me between the eyes, I cope by blogging about it.

I remember that we spent a lot of time together in bed that night, didn't really do anything but talk, and I was very confused at the end when you categorically said nothing could ever happen. Especially since you'd told me you thought I was cute. Nothing happened because you'd never done anything and weren't planning on doing anything till you were married -- which seemed inconsistent to me, since you were spending the night in bed with me. Not sure what you're referring to as "something else at work" --unless it's the fact that you and I are better suited to be friends than lovers.

I'm rejecting him. Right? He answered:

i was less categorical than you remember... but that didn't make me any less of a jerk... what prompted you to throw me out of the apt was that you thought i was being judgmental about your experiences.... i was... i hadn't allowed myself another frame of reference, and while we were talking about it during the night, you'd been a little too aggressively forward (conversationally, not actively) about it... that's what freaked me at the time

Apparently he wasn't man enough to be my man -- then or now. And this shouldn't bother me, right? I've got bipolar, he's got OCD -- any child we had would inherit a tremendous genetic risk for either or both disorders. Even though it would probably be very bright and extremely cute.

regarding that night... I'm glad you no longer think I'm the whore of Babylon. I guess you were very young, and I was very forward/demanding. Good thing for both of us that we've grown up a little in the interim. why did it take u so long to tell me this?

I'm leaving the door open... we've both grown... what's the logical conclusion?

after that night you denied my right to exist for the next 10 months -- until the night of my house party (you remember that--we both drunk ourselves sick)

after that i figured leave it alone... it's rare in any case that anyone can do any kind of sensible post mortem of this sort (possibly because no one is that psychodynamically oriented, possibly becuase no one knows better)...


I denied his right to exist? Sounds like he cared I was ignoring him.

I denied your right to exist? You mean I ignored you? Yes, but then we got stinking drunk and made peace.I honestly don't remember a heck of a lot about that one night together (less about the drunk -- although I do remember vomiting copiously and waking up in an empty apartment next to a guy learning gemara). Do you want to talk about things, or are you happy trading emails about it?

Why do I set myself up to be hurt?

no reason we can't do both...

he waffled. I lost patience.

okay... I see you have a fear of commitment ;P shabbat shalom

Which he thought was harsh. Finally I emailed him my phone number, and he called. But nothing more came from the discussion, other that the fact that he allegedly didn't think I was the whore of Babylon -- even back when he was young and judgmental. And he didn't suggest we go out now. So I felt -- rejected.

Like I said before, we're a fearsome genetic prospect. I shouldn't even want to date him. It just bothers me that he doesn't want to date me.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Fasting, psych meds, and menstruation: Oy

I caved. Even though I tried to sleep most of the day, even though it's damp and cool, I felt horribly dizzy. I broke my fast early. Hopefully Yom Kippur won't be this dreadful.

On the upside, I seem to have lost a pound. Just 29 or so to go.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Why I HAVE to get a PhD

Apparently higher education delays the onset of Alzheimer's Disease. Or at least delays the detection of it -- maybe because individuals with more education can compensate better.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Serene

I told Spike that last week's acupuncture made me feel slightly hypomanic and uninterested in working. He listened thoughtfully, then said, "Maybe... or maybe it's summer, you're young, it's sunny out, and you feel like playing, not working."

That's possible. Today I felt mellow and serene after acupuncture, and it was a little easier to focus on work. Sometimes I still can't believe I'm really a therapist. I feel like I'm faking it, at least part of the time. But sometimes I know exactly what to say or how to reframe what a client is expressing. I guess that will be true for a while. Also, when in doubt, reflect. It keeps the client talking, gets you more information, and buys you time to figure out a therapeutic response.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

More married men

Don't worry -- I have two new married male friends, but they're not lusting after me in any way. At least I don't think so. One of them is a guy who used to message me on a dating website but never actually asked me out. After he got married, Shimshon friended me on Facebook. He works near my office, so we met for lunch on Monday.

It was fun. Emails never really prepare you for how a person is in real life. It was nice just to hang out and get to know a new person, and talk about how frustrating dating is. Unfortunately, none of Shimshon's friends seem ready, willing, or able to get married, so he doesn't have anyone to set me up with, but it's always good to have another friend in the neighborhood.

The other friend is a cousin-in-law of my sister, Chananya. I met him at her wedding and saw him at various family events from time to time. He's a very creative, verbal person, like me, so we've always had a good rapport. I recently decided to show Chananya this blog, and he was very supportive (albeit shocked at Jerusha's depredations). And I'm going to look at his novel. Chananya doesn't really know any eligible guys for me either, but you never know.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Ingrate

A few weeks ago I crashed a Shabbos lunch at Alona's, and she was nice enough to let me squeeze in. The other guests were a married couple and their young sons. They all seemed pretty nice, so I was glad I crashed.

Apparently the feeling was mutual. Yesterday, I got a note from Alona:

Rina and Tuvia, whom you met at our house over lunch a couple of weeks ago, want to set you up. She describes the guy below. See what you think; not sure if you feel he is too old for you.

Uh-oh. I read the forwarded note:

The person we had in mind is XY. He is [9 years older than Ayelet] and works as a controller; I don't know anything about the company. My spy (Tuvia) didn't find out. He is a tall, heavy-set man with a salt-and-pepper beard.

If Ayelet would like to meet informally, she could come to shul for the end of Tisha B'Av. XY is sponsoring the break-fast so I assume he will be there. She doesn't have to even say hello; she can let us know if she would be interested in a formal introduction.

Isn't it traditional to make shidduchs right after Tisha B'Av?

Now that is one of the nicest things anyone's tried to do for me in a while, and she's absolutely right that after Tisha b'Av it's customary to make shidduchim. But -- my first thought, verbatim, was, "Uch." Not only is he old, he looks old. And fat. I realize I'm not Kate Moss, but I'm really not into fat guys -- one of the reasons I couldn't stand Captain Best Effort, who used to knock things off tables, inadvertantly, with his gut.

Am I an ingrate? I wrote back to Alona,

Lord knows I hate to turn down a shidduch suggestion, but I think he's probably too old, too heavyset, and too salt-and-pepper bearded. It's really nice of them to think of me, though.

She got it; Alona put in her years as a single woman, and she hasn't forgotten how demoralizing the bad date can be. She asked for my preferred age range and sent it on to Rina, in case they know any other single, less heavyset, less bearded men.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Advocating at the "experts"

I joined the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT), and they have an email listserv. Most of the content is just "can anyone recommend a CBT practitioner for a 25yo woman with OCD who is moving to Memphis, Tennessee?" or "Does anyone have a good book to recommend on CBT for a new practitioner?"

But sometimes they have discussions on interesting topics. One of these was the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight. A grad student posted:

I am writing you after having just seen the movie Batman. I am outraged to say that this Blockbuster has done an injustice to the people I deeply care about-- the people all over this nation who suffer from severe and persistent mental illness.

In the movie, Joker's hitch men are portrayed as (quote from the movie) "paranoid schizophrenic" and "my master told me that if I did this, then the voices would stop." These were the people who helped Joker maim and murder the innocent Gothic city citizens (which by the way, I felt was pretty graphic for PG-13, parents beware).

Joker, himself, was portrayed as being crazy, a mental case, hence the reason he enjoyed all the death, destruction, and mental games he planned and participated in. I went tonight to be entertained. I left feeling outraged. Once again, the entertainment industry is perpetuating the message that mentally ill people are dangerous. Mentally ill people are violent. The cause of evilness is mental illness.

This message perpetuates the stigma. The stigma that may stop people from going to get the help that they need for the fear of being labeled. The stigma that plays a role in tax payers and politicians not voting for the mental health funding. The stigma that is part of the reason some of my patients are homeless. Also, part of the reason one of my patients tells me "I am not paranoid schizophrenic... I do not have two personalities, I am not evil!" and then doesn't take his medication, (which leads to more suffering and distress for him as tries to endure living in a world he sees as being out to get him).

The stigma not only affects my patients, but also affects me, as a provider, the places I work, and our community. I am tired of the media sending these messages to the general public... tired of people thinking that this is entertainment.

I am writing this e-mail to send out a voice of awareness. It is your choice whether you go and see this movie. I might even have made you more curious about it and now you want to go see what I am talking about. My hope is that I just open your eyes to what you are really watching on that screen... a stereotype being perpetuated, which in turn leads to unjust prejudice and discrimination.

I agreed with everything she said and planned to say something as soon as I saw the movie. But a PhD-level psychologist from Ireland, of all places, beat me to the punch:

I appreciate your thoughts re mental illness being focus of 'entertainment' (e.g., Batman movie). I think you correctly point out that we as clinicians have a responsibility that we do not necessarily address as frequently as we might.

Apparently Jack Nicholas [sic.], prior to filming of Batman, highlighted to Heath Ledger something along the lines of, 'Beware. Anyone who has ever played the Joker has had nightmares' which, more broadly, might be interpreted as meaning 'Anyone who plays around with mental illness may well have some serious repercussions and/or consequences.'

How CBT clinicians can more directly have impact on (and shape in more positive ways) what appears to be a human being's need to project and split his/her dark side and even possibly laugh at it, is, I think, worth debate.

That's not the point!!!! As you know, I have decided that psychologists are evil and unethical. So I decided to weigh in:

I actually went to this movie with my co-workers as part of a staff appreciation day, and while I found it absolutely spellbinding -- it's a really well-made movie -- I was very upset with one relatively small aspect of it.

Some of the Joker's followers are labeled "paranoid schizophrenics" and say things like, "He promised the voices would stop if I helped him..." However, how many of us have worked with people who have this diagnosis who would EVER have trusted someone like The Joker and joined his team? People with paranoid schizophrenia are more likely to be loners, not joiners, for one thing. So the characterization is patently inaccurate and irrational. It's just a cheap way of amping up the shock value -- and completely unnecessary. If these references were edited out, the movie would only be better.

When interrogated by Batman or police, furthermore, these "paranoid schizophrenics" don't present like people with paranoid schizophrenia. They're not wary and guarded and sullen. Rather, they're spacey and goofy, he stereotypical and inaccurate image of people with mental illness that's constantly promulgated in the popular media. You know, the "crazy" eyes, the wild body language, etc. It's a page out of Otto Wahl's "Media Madness."

Effective media that incorporate inaccurate stereotypes really reinforce those stereotypes. And I find that distressing. I was an antistigma advocate with NAMI long before I got my professional degrees and started working as a clinician. I have to say, I'm a little disappointed in the professional organizations -- American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, etc. -- for their lack of protest at these kinds of media. Who if not psychiatrists and psychologists should tell the creative community that their concept of mental illness is fundamentally inaccurate and harmful?

I don't have much stature as a professional, being a new clinician with two paltry master's degrees, but I know there are people on this listserve who command national attention in the media. Why not make a statement that this movie, entertaining as it is, presents an inaccurate, stigmatizing, and harmful image of people with paranoid schizophrenia that tarnishes its effectiveness as art and slanders people who are suffering?

So the gauntlet is thrown down. Let's see if any prominent clinicians rise to the occasion.
One of the people on that listserv is Bob Leahy, director of the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy and a fairly prominent clinician. I'm wondering if he'll respond. So far, this is the only post of his I've seen on the listserv:

A number of years ago someone told me about a clinic that treated specific phobia by having patients dress up like the phobic object. So, if the patient feared rats, the patient dressed up like a rat for the day. Has anyone ever heard of this unusual exposure treatment? If so, who does this?

Don't tell me this is more important than combating media stigma.
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Saturday, August 02, 2008

"Hottie at 11 o'clock"

Went to a different minyan with Shuli & Co. Nice davening, not too many people there, including my friend Shaliach and a totally hot guy, whom I called to Shuli's attention right before the Torah reading. (When she asked if I knew anyone else, I told her that years ago, I slept with the guy who davened Shacharit, who was there with his wife and kids. Small world.)

At kiddush afterwards, Baruch fell asleep on my neck and I walked over to Shaliach, who was chatting with the hot guy -- let's call him Chatich.

"Good Shabbos, Shaliach," I said. He responded and introduced us.

"Wow -- sleeping like a baby," said Chatich. "Wish I could sleep that well."

I didn't have a witty rejoinder, but later, I realized I could help this guy. Not by snuggling him next to my skin, letting him hear my heartbeat, and humming -- which is how I hypnotize Baruch -- but with acupuncture. So I sent an email to Shaliach:

Hey -- wanted to let your friend Chatich know that I'm not just good at putting babies to sleep, I'm also good at helping adults sleep. But with acupuncture, not snuggling and skin contact and my heartbeat. Let me know if he'd like to know more.

Who knows...
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Friday, August 01, 2008

Happy blogiversary

Tomorrow marks two years I've been writing this blog. In honor of this momentous occasion, I've reopened it to the public. I believe that's safe because the evil psychologists at The Bad Place don't know where I went to school or where I work, so they can't cause trouble for me. And I don't include any identifying information about my current clients or agency. Except Iceman's nickname, and that's not a matter of public record.

Last year I wrote,

A year ago, my knees were fine, I was looking forward to starting school at The Bad Place, and I was hoping to lose some weight. I had yet to meet Dr. Jerk, Dr. Dragon, Miss Thing, or Dean Evillene. I hadn't gone out with the Very Young Guy, the Big Fat Liar, Brooklyn Accountant, Brooklyn Lawyuh, the Arabian Knight, Hude, or Little Marty. I also thought I'd have more than 23 blog readers.

Since then I've graduated, gotten a job, and had more frustrating relationships with men, including Captain Best Effort, Ikey Abadi, and SB. It seems there's not a single, frum man out there who's currently willing to give me a fraction of the validation and respect that I get from my wonderful married male friends, Boaz and Dov.

I hope this is my year. I hope I start achieving my professional goals, I hope my knees recover, I hope I fall in love. I don't think that's too much to ask for. Going by my track record, however, it might be.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"