Sunday, September 28, 2008

This is what I deserve?

Last night I got a Frumster email from a foreign-born man 8 years older than I. Call him Frenchy. He lives in another city. Usually I'm not interested in long-distance relationships with men more than 5 years my senior, but I'm trying, these days, to keep an open mind.

they soooooo cute, how are you, u have a great smile, when we can share a museum in Ny ?

I think "they soooooo cute" refers to the picture with my nieces and nephews. And I write in my profile that I like museums. Okay, so he can read English.

thanks, I don't know -- when are you coming to NYC? do u have a pic?

He saw my pictures, I have a right to see his.

yes, i have a pic to show you, i miss NY, i use to spend my sundays with a great breakfast and a museum tour, where i can send it to you i'm on yahoo

Normally I don't like giving a Frumster contact my email address right away, but if it's the only way to see whether he's repulsive... and he does seem fairly nice. I think. To be safe, I gave him an address I don't use very often. But since it's a Yahoo address, he took that as an invitation to IM me on Yahoo. Fine, whatever, I can roll with that.

Frenchy: how are you
Frenchy: how's ur nite
ayelet: I slept fine, thanks
Frenchy: ur webcam is open?

My what? That's pretty forward.

ayelet: I don't have a webcam
Frenchy: i wish i can see you
Frenchy: with your eyes just open
Frenchy: lol

HUH?

ayelet: u want to see me just waking up? that's kind of forward
Frenchy: no, it's nice to be the firs tto see someone
Frenchy: you never went to your door the mornin to pick up the NY times with just your robe and your eyes just open
ayelet: ???
Frenchy: lol

I'm sorry -- a man in his 40s should have better social skills than that! I don't think it's a language difference -- that's just bad manners or utter cluelessness.

ayelet: is it appropriate to talk to me like this the day before Rosh Hashana?
Frenchy: Wow
Frenchy: don't take it in the wrong way
Frenchy: and is nothing to do with the Rosh hashanna " ambiance"
Frenchy: but i understadn you not use to
ayelet: it's just not proper

He doesn't get it. And I don't have time to teach him why his behavior is incredibly inappropriate.

Frenchy: i think you got my pic and feel free to ask me Qs
ayelet: I'm sorry, I'm not interested
Frenchy: me2

Sure. Salvage your ego.

This morning I got an email from someone whose Frumster profile is sparse and whose photo is kind of scary. He's scowling. I realize people hate having their picture taken, but he just looks like a malcontent. Needless to say, he's not handsome; if he were, he'd probably look intense and sultry. Not that I'm looking for handsome, but ugly and scary is much worse than plain ugly.

On his profile, Malcontent (Mal for short) states that he has attained "some university" in terms of education. He doesn't list an occupation. The last guy I met on Frumster who didn't list his occupation turned out to be a security guard. Mal's self-description runs:

I enjoy doing research on the current lives of past encounters. I also like to read. I am also very found of walking.

The current lives of past encounters? Not, I don't know, movies, live music, traveling? Mal sounds... weird. So already my guard's up. Furthermore, the message he sent had no subject line, just:

Which shul do you go to?

That's all you want to know? What made you write to me? What caught your interest? Who the hell are you?

I wrote Mal back with the name of my synagogue, and I guess he approved, because he responded:

Can we ever meet?

Well, that depends on you, Mal:

Can you tell me a little more about yourself? Your profile doesn't really say much.

I kind of hope that will scare him off. Is this the best I deserve? Horny French guys with no boundaries? Ugly Brooklyn guys with no substance?
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Please daven for Shmuel Baruch ben Golda

A friend of mine on Facebook wished all of his single friends a shana tova that includes getting married. He asked me to daven for him. I would, but I suspect that Gd either ignores my prayers entirely or contrives to give me the opposite of what I want. So I don't want to jinx him, too. Instead, I'm asking you, dear readers, to please daven for Shmuel Baruch ben Golda to find a shidduch. You can daven for me, too, but don't be surprised if your prayers aren't answered.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Still waiting

I wasn't expecting Jeff to call before Monday. But I still haven't heard from him. Maybe I shouldn't have bothered thinking twice.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

I wonder how that's going to go

The Bad Place still sends me announcements from time to time. I stay on their mailing list because I plan to send everyone on it a book announcement if I ever publish this blog.

This week's topic: "The Role of Emotion in Psychotherapy"

Speaker: Robert L. Leahy.

Two years ago, Dr. Leahy elicited a disclosure about my worries over what seemed to be impending knee surgery -- and the evil psychologists at The Bad Place bludgeoned me for that, saying I had "loose boundaries."

So this year, what's he going to say, and how will they respond? That psychotherapists aren't allowed to have emotions? That programs are allowed to badger and harass their own students who do have emotions? Gd help any student who speaks up at this lecture.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Men pass in and out of my life

Friday night I went to an oneg at shul. One of the guys there looked... familiar. I had the sense that I hadn't gone out with him but had wanted to. Beyond that, I couldn't remember anything -- his name, how we met... total amnesia.

Eventually he came over and reminded me that we met at a Shabbos meal last month. Last month -- and I had no idea who he was. I even asked the host to make inquiries on my behalf. Being a guy, I don't think the host actually did. And even though the mystery man came over to me and spoke to me -- nothing happened. He didn't ask me out. So there's no sense in remembering him, is there.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Thinking twice

Got a message on Frumster.

Sorry for such a short message but had to ask a qualifying question. You indicate in your "looking for in a mate" section that you prefer guys who aren't overly tall or overly beefy. Do you mean heavy/overweight or broad muscular? I'm 5'11'' and 195. I work out regularly and am both muscular and broad but am not all ripped up. I'm a work in progress. Wouldn't be asking if I was scared off, but then if you prefer an ectomorph, I'd be a poor fit.

Let me know what you think and if appropriate I'll re-approach without a qualifying question. ;)

Trusting you are well, Jeff

If he thinks that's short, he must usually put a lot of thought into his communications. Impressive. A quick look at his profile told me he was divorced with 2 sons. Under "What Modern Orthodox - Liberal means to me" he wrote:

Observing traditionally with heightened spirituality while living in the modern, secular world. Shomer Shabbos, Kashrut home, more relaxed: modesty laws, social laws (bars, clubs, swimming pools, beach).

I can live with that. How does he describe himself?

I'm an energetic guy who works out three nights a week, goes to shul every Shabbos and a couple of nights during the week. I pray when I wake and before I retire. I love a traditional Jewish home and the importance of our calendar. I am quite curious and learn Torah periodically. Have been in a study group before but am not in one currently. I particularly like learning Jewish Philosophy, so Pirkei Avos is quite popular with me.

Grew up in a conservative home where mother was from an orthodox background and father was reform. Went to a traditional shul in Lakewood, NJ. Was active in USY and went to hebrew school in addition to my public secular education through high school. Spent 6 weeks in Poland and Israel summer 1987.

Became engaged in secular judaism in college and stopped doing so many things that were important to me. Didn't realize how grave of a loss that was until 10+ years later. Married a girl I dated in college who had less of a judaic identity than I did. We had two children and it was in the process of raising a family that our backgrounds in judaism/family clashed to such a degree that we began to grow apart. A year and a half later we separated and an additional 18 months later we were divorced both by civil court and the Beit Din.

I'm a very engaging dad and have always been good with kids. I'm the kind of guy that gets on the ground and has the imagination to play with young children. My two boys live with their mother in Long Island and I see them every other Sunday. Sometimes I get them for the weekend and then we spend Shabbos with my parents. Sadly, I see them so infrequently and that drives my desire to have more children that I can love daily.

I'm the oldest of 4 boys and highly value family and its importance. I'm adventurous and love to travel, hike, camp and scuba dive.

So he's frum, intelligent, in shape, articulate, thoughtful, and not afraid to admit he loves kids and actually has feelings. Promising. I wrote back:

I was trying to screen out men who are overweight. I'm not especially into very muscular guys -- I actually don't have a "look" per se -- but I'm not turned off by them. I'm also a work in progress, although I'm not really a gym rat. Two years ago a personal trainer blew out both my knees, and I'm still recovering. I do a lot of walking, but I don't think I'll ever have, nor do I particularly covet, six-pack abs. Ask all the qualifiers you like -- I'm an open book. Ayelet

Again, he sent a thought-out and entertaining response.

I like your name, Ayelet. It's quite pretty. How do people call out to you to get your attention... say if they see you walking ahead on the street?

While I'm complementing, the note I took down when I first read your profile was, "Witty".

Ouch on the knees! Were you doing squats or some kind of deep knee bends? Tore through both ACLs? *hurts to think about*

How did you decide to go into social work?

Please ask me questions too. I'm new to both this site and the frum dating scene and am a bit concerned about overstepping some boundary. I think your questions will help in that regard.

Impressive that he's concerned about not stepping on any of my toes. Most single Jewish guys aren't that self-aware. I wrote back, at a somewhat belated hour:

Thanks. I'm quite witty. Sometimes too witty. When I'm in boring meetings, I have to keep myself from making too many jokes.

On the street, people usually say, "Hey -- miss! With the long hair! Are you Spanish?" My clients call me "Miss Ayelet," it's very cute.

The inept personal trainer had me doing lunges, running stairs, squats, stepping up, you name it. All things I should NOT have been doing. MRIs didn't show any permanent damage. My acupuncturist says my knees have too much heat and dampness. He's working on it.

Questions for you....

Do you prefer skinny or curvy girls?

What do you like to read?

Do you keep kosher outside the house?

What kind of projects do you manage?

Why do you live in New Jersey if your kids live in Long Island?

Why do you love camping? I view it as punishment. I don't mind hiking and spending time outdoors and cooking over a fire, but at the end of the day I want a shower, a flush toilet, and a real bed.

If you overstep a boundary I'll tell you nicely. Social workers are very good at enforcing boundaries.

I'm very tired, I'm going to sleep.

Wittily, he styled his next subject line: "Are you Spanish?"

Fit curvy would be my optimal preference. I've never been attracted to very skinny girls and overweight typically indicates we would be very different in terms of health orientation.

I like to read a lot of different types of fiction. I've always like Robert Ludlum and Michael Chrichton as far as authors go. I like fantasy fiction as a genre and some science fiction. I've read some titles of late to better educate myself about Islam, typically written by women or critics of the extremism of the religion.

On Kashrut: I have a lot to improve on outside of the home. It's become much easier living in a community with lots of kosher choices. Biggest problem for me is lunch while I'm at work. Currently, I'll get a salad from one of 2-3 places near my office, but I know it's not kosher. That's a big improvement from where I was a year ago and my goal is continual improvement.

I manage technology implementation and product development projects. Anything from deploying a new computer system to launching a new banking application on a cell phone. I'm doing a lot with mobile banking these days.

Jersey is nearly in the middle between my kids and my parents. 50 mins either way. I really don't care for Long Island. It's mostly the people and their attitudes that I've grown to steer clear of. I'd characterize them as being the most materialistic and rude of those I've met in all of the areas surrounding Manhattan. My ex knew I would never live there when she decided to move back there, as she grew up there.

What I like about camping is sleeping in crisp clean air, roughing it a little which makes you appreciate the accoutrements of life that make us so comfortable, and then looking forward to a comfortable bed and hot shower. =) I don't camp that often but have fond memories of doing so as a kid.

I've stayed up much to late and am retiring as well. Seeing as you'll get this tomorrow, I hope you had a restful night and I wish you a good day today.

So what do I know about this guy? He's funny. He writes well. He's not so fond of his ex-wife. And he's been shomer mitzvot for less than a year. Problem. Because someone who's newly observant might not stay observant. Or might decide to put on a black hat -- or shtreimel, or spodik.

Essentially, you've been shomer mitzvot for less than a year is what you're telling me. Can I ask how you know this is how you want to spend the rest of your life? I'm not a big fan of Long Island, either, btw.

He responded:

I wouldn't say I've ever been shomer mitzvot as I've been making changes all along, doing a little more all the time. Perhaps I'm interpreting the definition of shomer mitzvot incorrectly, but I understand that to mean "totally observant of all Jewish law". I consider that a goal, not where I am now.

When you are unhappy about your life's direction and make a decision to change, it takes tremendous courage and conviction. While there never is an absolute guarantee that anyone will maintain their standards, there is a high degree of likelihood that they will if they are happy and continuing to grow.

I divorced myself from my previous lifestyle, changing the negative people around me including a wife of 12+ years, changing careers, changing where I lived, etc. This was a gradual process over nearly 3 years, but things really started to change for me about a year ago when I found myself unhappy with the social focus of my then Conservative shul and started to attend a Chabad. At that point my growth rate increased, my desire to learn increased and it felt better.

I want to spend the rest of my life continuing down the path I am on. It took much struggle to get here and I'm not about to take steps backwards. My rabbi's shiur this past Shabbos focused on the importance of struggle and how Hashem greatly values the process we go through when we struggle. That's how I know.

I trust you'll be honest with me as I've been here and let me know if this doesn't sit well with your expectations of a potential husband.

He sounds sincere. I just don't know, though. I don't know where he'll end up. I realize there are no guarantees in life, but I worry about people who are in the midst of redefining themselves. Also, if you're not shomer shabbat and shomer kashrut, can you really call yourself "modern orthodox" -- even with the "liberal" qualifier?

I believe it's a little inaccurate of you to identify yourself as "modern orthodox -- liberal." As far as I'm concerned, that *is* "shomer mitzvot" because you're shomer shabbat and shomer kashrut. It's an admirable goal or aspiration for you to have, but I'm looking for someone who's there and secure that he wants to stay there. Trust me, I identify with your struggle. Not everyone in my family is shomer shabbat, and not all of them are respectful about my being shomer shabbat.

He took that kind of personally.

My intention wasn't to deceive. I referenced the Observance Categories in the FAQ to determine which category to select and believed modern orthodox-liberal was the most accurate reflection of me.

I apologize if I offended you and understand your perspective. If you have a suggestion for a better categorization for my religious orientation, I'd be open to considering it.

I assume you are going to close me out and understand. Lots of luck with your search.

Was I rude? What should I say to him?

I would recommend "Traditional & Growing." Like I said, I have the highest regard for the path you're on, but I'm not up for walking it at this point in my life. I wasn't offended, I just don't think we're at the same stage. Please don't view it as "closing you out." After all, for all you know, you might take one look at me in person and think, "Definitely not."

But I couldn't let it go. I kept wondering if I was doing the smart thing by pushing away someone smart, funny, honest, articulate, passionate, and not afraid of his feelings. (At least, that's the sense I got from his emails.) After wavering, I sent him another message:

Would you like to have coffee sometime? I spoke with some very smart people, and they said I was too judgmental about you, so I'm humbling myself and asking for a second chance

remember, it's Elul and a little forgiveness goes a long way ;)

Technically, I didn't speak with anyone else about him, but I had considered blogging about him, and I extrapolated what all of you would probably comment on my handling of the situation.

Before long I heard back:

I appreciate your sincerity and that you are willing to take the advice of others.

I don't believe you were too judgmental. You just know what you want and feel we are at two different stages. I can understand why you wouldn't want to get involved with someone at a different observant plateau. That's the same reason I don't have Conservative women in my search criteria.

I also recognize that it's difficult to be tolerant and since you're open to giving me a fair look, I'm open to having a cup of coffee. Bonus for Hodesh Elul.

Just might be hard to coordinate with me this weekend with Slichos tomorrow night and then I'm out on LI all day on Sunday with my kids. I'll get home late. If you don't hear from me until Monday, you'll know why.

Fair enough. He seems like a forgiving type, which anyone who would want to marry me would definitely have to be.

Okay, my # is 212-xxx-xxxx. I won't expect a call till at least Monday. (Nice mention of slichot, btw.)

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

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Give the psychologists a frickin' medal

Apparently the psychologists have figured out that it's unethical to assist in torture. According to the New York Times:

Members of the American Psychological Association have voted to prohibit consultation in the interrogations of detainees held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, or so-called black sites operated by the Central Intelligence Agency overseas.... The vote, 8,792 to 6,157 in a mail-in balloting concluded Monday, may help to settle a long debate within the profession over the ethics of such work.

8,792 to 6,157? So only 2,635 more psychologists think it's wrong to assist in torture than think it's just fine?

I bet Dr. Octopussy was one of the 6,157.

A member of ABCT posted to the listserv:

I thought ABCT people might be interested in this news.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2008

APA MEMBERS APPROVE PETITION RESOLUTION ON DETAINEE SETTINGS

WASHINGTON -- The petition resolution stating that psychologists may not work in settings where "persons are held outside of, or in violation of, either International Law (e.g., the UN Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions) or the US Constitution (where appropriate), unless they are working directly for the persons being detained or for an independent third party working to protect human rights" was approved by a vote of the APA membership. To become policy, a petition resolution needs to be approved by a majority of those members voting.

Per the Association's Rules and Bylaws, the resolution will become official APA policy as of the Association's next annual meeting, which will take place in August 2009. At that time, the APA Council of Representatives will also determine what further action may be necessary to implement the policy.

The approval of the petition resolution represents a significant change in APA's policy regarding the involvement of psychologists in interrogations. The petition resolution limits the roles of
psychologists in certain defined settings where persons are detained to working directly for detainees or for an independent third party to protect human rights, or to providing treatment to other military personnel.

This new petition resolution expands on the 2007 APA resolution, which called on the U.S. government to ban at least 19 specific abusive interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, that are regarded as torture by international standards. The 2007 resolution also recognized that "torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment can result not only from the behavior of individuals, but also from the conditions of confinement," and expressed "grave concern over settings in which detainees are deprived of adequate protection of their human rights."

APA will continue to call upon the Department of Defense and Congress to safeguard the welfare and human rights of detainees held outside of the United States and to investigate their treatment to ensure the highest ethical standards are being upheld.

I couldn't resist snarking.

What's interesting is that more than 6,000 psychologists approve of using their clinical skills in the service of torture. Which, by the way, has been proven ineffective as a means of eliciting useful, accurate information.

I don't have statistical, evidence-based proof at my fingertips, but this article is pretty convincing.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How to get men to do what you want them to do

Dahlia Lithwick reviewed an interesting book, Nudge:Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, on Slate. This is my favorite part of the review:

An Amsterdam economist had black houseflies etched into the wells of the urinals at Schiphol Airport under the theory that "If a man sees a fly, he aims at it." Spillage decreased by 80 percent.

I might need to get this book.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, September 15, 2008

Love stinks



Kinda how I'm feeling right now...
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

A 3-cigarette wedding

I was happy for Ruth, of course, but reminded once again of my single status. Most emphatically during the mixed dancing, or should I say couples dancing. Because I obviously have no dance partner. I wasn't the only disgruntled guest; Ruth's friend Shira also bemoaned her lack of a man to dance with. (As far as I know she wants a man. I could be wrong.)

So a few times I snuck out with guests brandishing cancer sticks and lighters, mooched a butt, and lit up. I think smoking relaxes me because it involves deep, regular breathing; I doubt I'm inhaling enough smoke to get a real nicotine hit. I think I also like it because it's a kind of "fuck you" to my wretched existence. I'm not satisfied with my life; let's knock off a few years. Puff puff.

However, one of my fellow smoke-sneakers smells terrible. I noticed it before the chuppah, when she leaned in to ask me a detail about the ceremony. I don't know if it was her hair, her skin, or her breath, but she reeked. So I don't think I'll become a regular smoker, if only for that reason. Just the occasional "fuck you, universe" cigarette bummed off another essential nihilist.

We didn't get back to the city until after 11 p.m., and I didn't take my medication because I was afraid of being a zombie all day today -- it's too sedating if I take it too late at night. I thought I'd be in a terrible mood today, from the lack of meds and sleep, but I'm actually quite cheerful. Maybe I should skip my lithium more often.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, September 14, 2008

On the other hand....

I do have an increasing number of divorced Facebook friends. I think I should call myself "never-divorced" rather than "single." It's more accurate.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I sent the toolkit to EIGHT psychologists... so why do I feel like a failure?

Facebook can be a double-edged sword. I've discovered that people in high school apparently liked me a lot more than I ever thought they did. But every time I see their profile pictures with their spouses and children, I feel like a complete loser -- old, fat, and unappealing. I hate seeing pictures of myself at this weight almost as much as I hate dieting. I'm happy to go to Ruth's wedding tomorrow, but she's 8 years younger than I am.

I just feel like it's never going to happen. Whatever chances I had at romance, I must have blown years ago. I probably met the perfect person for me and turned him away because his nose was too long.

If that sounds obscure, you're not familiar with a famous story. The Steipler Gaon, a famous posek, was asked by an unmarried man, "Why have I not yet found my basherte?" The Steipler responded, "You met her -- but you thought her nose was too long."
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Slaying Dr. Dragon!

I've mentioned before that I am a member of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (none of whom, by the way, took up my advocacy suggestion). Yesterday one member posted a question:

Does anyone know if you need permission to use the Y-BOCS in a study? I’ve written what I thought was Wayne Goodman’s email to ask but have gotten no response yet.

"Y-BOCS" stands for "Yale-Brown obsessive-compulsive scale." It's in the public domain, so a researcher should be able to use it in a study. Apparently Dr. Dragon agrees, because she responded:

Hi kevin, hope all is well. As far as I am aware if in the public domain
Devona
Associate Professor of Psychology
Director, Clinical Program
Director, CBT Training Program
The Bad Place
Founding Fellow, Academy of Cognitive Therapy
Executive Board, International Association of Cognitive Psychotherapy

I get it, you're a big CBT cheese. But: As far as you're aware? Do your frickin' homework (and do a little proofreading while you're at it)! So I posted:

The Y-BOCS and Y-BOCS Symptom Checklist are in the public domain and available online:

http://healthnet.umassmed.edu/mhealth/YBOCRatingScale.pdf

http://healthnet.umassmed.edu/mhealth/YBOCSymptomChecklist.pdf

Other excellent online resources for assessment instruments in the public domain (and some that require a license):

http://www.neurotransmitter.net

The Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute at the University of Washington: http://lib.adai.washington.edu/instruments

http://www.psychiatrictimes.com

While I was in school I created a toolkit of public-domain assessment instruments appropriate for use by clinical social workers or psychiatrists, who aren't trained in more sophisticated testing. The toolkit covers mood and anxiety disorders, adult ADHD, substance abuse, trauma, and geriatric instruments, and includes a lit review of relevant validity studies. Backchannel me for a copy.

Ayelet Survivor, MA, MSW
(Title of my job)
(Name of my agency)

Then I started thinking this might not have been prudent. But what can she do to me? My brother-in-law sent The Bad Place a letter forbidding them from discussing me without my prior written consent. So she can't call my boss. Even if she did call my boss, I'm sure they'd listen to my side of the story and talk to my social work professors, none of whom thought nearly as poorly of me as The Bad Place did.

Fortunately, another psychologist on the list who posts all the time on all kinds of topics was impressed and posted to the list:

Hats off to you for your excellent work! I would love a copy.

Awesome. I sent it to her and she responded:

Very nice work. Thanks for sharing this.

It's possible she was just being nice and trying to encourage a new colleague, but hey -- that's more than anyone at The Bad Place ever did for me. So I guess not all psychologists are evil and unethical.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Why am I not surprised?

Men are visual. "Out of sight, out of mind" was coined by one of them and applies to almost all of them. Conversely, men want what they do see.

The Gorgeous Genius responded to my email about the Mentalist at the bachelorette party:

Yeah, nice misdirection as he carefully pilfered your belongings to pay for the "free" drinks. Anyway...are you doing anything tonight? Perhaps we can meet up.

He's gotten so cynical. And opportunistic. Now that he has an excuse to contact me, he's going to angle for more. He used to be such a sweet, innocent boy.... I suppose we were all sweet and innocent once. Now I'm just old and jaded.

I came home with everything I went to the bar with. Tonight I work late, so I might be too exhausted.

I guess he took that as encouragement.

You have your story and I have mine... Tell me what you feel like when you get in, or perhaps another time that you think better.

Better for what, exactly?

Another time to do what, exactly?

He doesn't seem to know the meaning of the word "exactly," because he responded

What would you like?

I'm tired. I was out late last night, I'm negotiating borderline religious harassment at work, and three of my clients have personality disorders, which means they're extremely irritating. So my patience for flirtation that leads nowhere is limited.

We've been over this. I'm too old and too tired for casual sex. You're not interested in a serious relationship. I don't see anything happening other than a drink between friends. At a bar, in public.

I thought that was pretty clear, but remember, he's extremely bright, extremely horny, and he tends to win every argument I get suckered into with him.

Well, no, you never said so explicitly, though I gathered something along those lines.

I don't know what I'm interested in, but I enjoy intimacy and being with you. If you find the thought entirely unappealing...there's nothing really I can say. But I don't consider it casual when you spend time with someone you like and respect, and like feeling close with, even if a relationship qua relationship seems difficult to envision.

What can you say to a person who italicizes "qua" in his emails? Of course he enjoys the "intimacy" with me because it's not real intimacy, it's just naked hanging out and talking. And if you like and respect someone, why is a relationship qua relationship difficult to envision? But I don't need to get into this discussion, because it leads the same place any "intimacy" with him would lead: nowhere.

Blah, blah, blah. Of course it's not a waste of time for you -- you don't feel your biological clock. I can't do the whole casual thing anymore. If it's not going anywhere, it's not going to happen.

I think he finally got the point:

Oookaaayyy

I could say a few other things. He wants the benefits of a relationship without doing any of the work. He's just rationalizing using me. But I think I'll leave it here. I'm tired.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Bachelorette blowout

I don't know why I do these things, but I volunteered to throw Ruth a bachelorette party. We originally set it for Saturday night but everyone canceled, so we rescheduled for Monday night. Fine with me -- I work 12 - 8 on Tuesday. I bought her the tackiest bachelorette veil I could find, trekking through three stores to find it, and met her tonight at Dive Bar.

I've seen Dive Bar a million times, living on the Upper West Side, and I never went in. Who knew that one of the Monday night regulars is Magic Marc, the Mentalist? He not only paid for all our drinks, he did a few tricks that amazed us. (Of course, we'd had a few pitchers of beer by then.)

Ruth was radiant in the tacky white, plastic-adorned veil. But Marc only had eyes for Lanie, one of Ruth's skinny friends, who was lanky and blonde in a black tank top. Even though he had his hands all over me -- I was sitting closest to him, and he's very touchy-feely -- he didn't see me.

"Can you put in a good word for me with Lanie?" he whispered in my ear. I wasn't even interested in him, but it was a little hurtful to be completely overlooked. Still, it wasn't my night, it was Ruth's, and did I mention he paid for the drinks?

Sharing a smoke outside with Ruth and her friend Shira -- interestingly, Marc and I both have nieces also named Shira and sisters who are modern orthodox, not that I'm saying I have more in common with him than Lanie, who isn't even Jewish -- I explained to them that he wasn't interested in me even though he kept touching my shoulder, my arm, my back.

"He likes Lanie," I said. They were surprised.

"I thought he was so into you!" said Ruth, knocking ash off her cigarette. I guess it's flattering they thought I merited his attention. He sees me as a fat girl, but they don't.

Neither does the Gorgeous Genius, whom I saw on my way to Dive Bar as he was coming out of a business meeting. He emailed me:

Subject: Didn't mean to snub you...

I was leaving a business dinner and not really able to stop and chat. How have you been? You looked nice tonight.

I wrote back:

No worries -- it looked like a business thing. I was on my way to a bachelorette party. We had a great time -- one of the other bar denizens turned out to be a mentalist/magician, so he did some tricks and paid for our drinks!

You also looked good.

I'll take my validation where I get it....
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, September 06, 2008

That's one sensitive Israeli Iraqi

So I met another Iraqi online. This one's a few years older than I am, and unlike SB and the Arabian Knight, he grew up in Israel, although he's lived in the U.S. for more than a decade. I work in the outer borough where he lives, so he asked if I could meet him at a local restaurant for dinner Thursday night.

I wasn't looking forward to it. On the phone he seemed cognitively rigid. He gets up every morning at 5 a.m.; makes himself a little cocktail of lemon juice, flaxseed oil, and water; eats a light breakfast of yogurt, tomato, and cucumber (I told you he was Israeli); works out at the gym; showers; goes to work; comes home; has a light dinner; hangs out with friends; and goes to bed. Every day. He kept emphasizing his gym routine and light diet, and I was certain he would think I was enormous.

I got dressed up, slathered on makeup, went to the restaurant anyway -- and wouldn't you know it, I apparently look just fine to him. (He's definitely Iraqi.) He even let me order dessert; I was sure he'd say we didn't want anything, so I had a wonderful chocolate souffle and he had the ice cream that came with it on the side.

He looks decent -- looks aren't that crucial to me, anyway. He has a good job, and he was only 30 minutes late -- for a sephardi, that's practically punctual.

But he's rigid. He kept telling me about his fitness and daily routines. Also, if he believes something is true, NOTHING will convince him otherwise. For example: he refuses to vote for Obama because he's positive Bam is a Muslim. And that's simply not true. Talking to him was exhausting, because he's more stubborn than almost anyone I've ever met. Myself included.

We also didn't always get each other. Walking to the car after dinner, we passed a shadchan he's known for years. "Why hasn't she married you off yet?" I joked.

"People don't understand that for two people to get married, it takes more than just sex," he said. "What is sex -- half an hour, an hour? You have get along, talk, the rest of the time!"

"Half an hour?" I said. "You said you had a lot of energy."

He didn't get it. "I do have a lot of energy! I like to do lots of things!" Sigh...

He also played me a voicemail left on his cell phone by his ex-girlfriend. Last October. "I want you to hear how fake her voice sounds," he said. "How much she love herself. How selfish she is."

She sounded okay to me; she kept saying how much she loved him. And who keeps months-old voicemails from exes?

"Do you live with roommates?" he asked, changing the subject.

"No, I live alone," I said. "I have a studio."

"It's great, living alone," he said. "No one to mess your stuff up."

"I'm the opposite," I said. "My apartment's a disaster -- I'm a terrible balabusta."

"Really?" he said. "Maybe next time I come over and check it out."

"I don't think so," I said emphatically. On a second date??? Bad idea, especially since I'm trying not to rush things physically with guys. But he might have thought that suggestion offended me or put me off.

When he dropped me off, I sort of fell to the ground -- he drives a SUV, and my legs are short. Apparently he interpreted that as my haste to be done with the date, because he called me five minutes later.

"Are you mad, Ayelet?" he asked.

"No," I said, puzzled.

"You got out of the car so fast and slammed the door so hard," he said.

"Well, I fell out of the car," I said. "I'm short. And I didn't slam the door."

"It sounded like you slammed the door."

"I promise you I didn't slam the door," I said. Gevalt.

"You're not mad?" he asked.

"I'm not mad," I said. Confused, maybe.

Tonight he called. "I saw you online," he said.

Are you stalking me? "Yeah, I went on the website for a little bit. Of course, that means you were on there too," I said logically.

He ignored that. We started chatting, and I told him about my wonderful friend Ruth, for whom I need to buy a bachelorette party veil. After I told him about her conversion, he declared that a person who took less than three years to convert can't really be Jewish. I didn't say anything. He could be right; her conversion did happen pretty quickly. But if three orthodox rabbis said it was valid, maybe it is.

Just as I was wondering whether I needed to suffer through another date with this guy, he told me he thought I should meet a friend of his.

"Okay," I said happily.

"It's not that I don't think you're a great girl, Ayelet, I think you're a wonderful girl," he said. "But I think this person might be more suitable for you."

"Can you tell me more about him?" I asked.

"Well, he's about my height, but he's chubbier," he said. Not a great start. "He used to be on the radio, there was an Israeli radio show and he was a broadcaster. But the station closed, so for now he drives a yellow cab."

A chubby Israeli cabdriver. No. Please, no. I managed to evade the shidduch.

Then he asked me if I knew anyone for him. Actually, I might. I'm just relieved he's as uninterested in me as I am in him.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Friday, September 05, 2008

How Ayelet got her groove back

Every Friday the clinical team discusses and allocates new clients. One of them piqued my interest. He had a few episodes of clinical depression under his belt, described himself as a "nervous" person, could not understand why he has been forbidden to contact a person he robbed at gunpoint -- "it's not like I hurt her," he complained to the screener -- and experimented with PCP, also known as angel dust.

My substance abuse treatment professor said that PCP users are at the tail end of the addict hierarchy. Alcoholics look down on potheads, because alcohol is legal. Potheads think they're better than cokeheads; cokeheads feel superior to crackheads. Crackheads position themselves above heroin junkies. [Among dopers, heroin sniffers scorn the skin-poppers, who in turn think they're just fine as long as they're not shooting directly into their veins or boosting.] But everyone thinks people who use PCP are messed up, because the only people who enjoy it tend to have serious mental problems.

So I was excited to have this client on my caseload. I thought he sounded interesting and entertaining. Unfortunately, I found out later that he's being sent to inpatient treatment instead. But I must be feeling somewhat better, because I seem to like my job again.

Also, the assistant clinical director, Clarice, told me how beautifully I decorated my office. She used it to see some of my clients while I was out sick, because her office is being moved and in disarray. I remember thinking how lovely her office was when I started, wondering if mine would ever look as nice. Now she wants my help to redecorate her new office!

I especially appreciated the compliment because my apartment is a disaster -- looks like a college dorm room with OCD. At least I know I'm capable of better if I put in the effort.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Run down and put upon

Yesterday I felt every stick as Spike needled me, and wound up with a few bruises, which is rare.

"Wow," he said. "You've got so much stagnated qi. I've never seen you so run down."

What does this tell me? That I'm too darn old for singles weekends. People with bipolar disorder need regular schedules. When we don't have regular sleep and activity, it has a terrible effect on our mood. I've been functioning at a very minimal level this week, mildly depressed.

When I'm depressed, I can barely write progress notes, let alone blog posts, and I'm not as good a therapist. In fact, sometimes I feel like a pretty bad therapist. All day Tuesday and Wednesday I felt terribly put upon by my clients, who just seemed too damn needy.

"Why are all these people telling me all their problems?" I thought to myself. "Oh yeah... that's my job."

I plan to sleep most of Shabbat. And Sunday I'll be spending a few hours with Baruch, since his parents haven't had a real date since he was born. I should be back to normal by next week, and I'll update you on my date with yet another Iraqi.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Instant bitch: Just add water

It's becoming apparent to me that I have a lot of anger about my status as a single woman. That was demonstrated on the SawyouatSinai Labor Day singles weekend, when I was as sarcastic and nasty as a hungry rattlesnake. Even my friends were occasionally startled by my vitriol, and I'm quite sure that any guy within hailing distance found it quite unattractive.

I just can't help feeling it's so unfair, for me and so many others, that we have to keep auditioning and putting ourselves out there for rejection. I'm beyond sick and bitter. I don't even feel like blogging about the weekend, although there were ups as well as downs and many amusing moments.

For example: Never sit last on a banana boat. Not the kind Harry Belafonte sang about -- it's a long straight tube filled with air that gets pulled by a motorboat. Kind of a cross between water-skiing and rafting. I was sitting at the end, and the guy in front of me was bouncing up and down. Anyone who's studied physics can tell you that the end of a chain collects the most energy. When the motorboat pulling us made a sharp turn, I flew off the end of the boat. They didn't see me fall, so I had to swim into shore.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Off my game

I was very sick last week -- fever and lethargy -- and got better just in time to go away for the SawyouatSinai Labor Day weekend. Which really underscored how much I need to keep to a regular sleep schedule. After three days of going to bed at 2 a.m. or later and getting up at 10 a.m., I was exhausted and really irritable. I did nothing all day yesterday -- dishes unwashed, recyclables piled high, garbage not taken out -- and I had a lot of trouble getting out of bed today. I hope getting back to my routine will put me in a better mood. I'll blog about the weekend when I'm feeling more back to normal.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"