Thursday, January 29, 2009

Oxytocin vs. Testosterone

That was the take-home message of a lecture I attended:

How to get QUALITY guys to COMMIT TO YOU & STAY MARRIED

The lecturer was Ziva Kramer, a dating coach / shadchanit / "relationship expert." Sponsored by the Jewish International Connection, the evening also included an open bar (kind of wasted on most women, especially a substance abuse counselor, although I did have one beer), a raffle (which I wasn't interested in, since I'm not a lucky person), and Q&A with "Celebrity Stylist Mark Garrison." For $20, I figured it was worth a shot.

I got there exhausted after a long day of training (and a short night of sleep, like tonight). After signing in, I was offered raffle tickets, which I declined, and told I could curbside Mark G. for hair advice. I'm always interested in hair advice, so I approached him and said that I was suffering from post-Brazilian keratin frizz. He lifted a hank of my hair and ran his fingers through it professionally and dispassionately.

"It looks pretty good," he said. "You haven't done anything else to your hair, right -- no color or other processes?" he asked. "It's virgin hair."

Nice to know that part of me still is.

"Virgin hair doesn't respond as well to process as hair that's already been chemically treated," he told me. "The next time you do the keratin, you'll have less frizz. Where did you have it done?" he asked. I told him. "I'm not familiar with them. We do the procedure at my salon."

I'm sure it costs a lot more at your salon. But I thanked him and got some crudités. I suppose the consult was worth the price of admission.

Ziva spoke for about half an hour about how touching a man induces the release of oxytocin in women, whereas touching a woman induces the release of testosterone in a man.

Oxytocin is a hormone that makes you feel more attached and bonded to a person -- this destroys your objectivity and ability to assess whether a man is really right for you. That can lead to wasting time in dead-end relationships that won't lead to the chuppah. In contrast, testosterone makes men more impulsive and less thoughtful, and will cause them to ultimately lose interest in the woman they're touching. (She only spoke for half an hour, but this was the gist.)

Ziva's got something of a point. She quoted Andrew Sullivan's piece on testosterone therapy for his HIV:

Within hours, and at most a day, I feel a deep surge of energy.... My attention span shortens. In the two or three days after my shot, I find it harder to concentrate on writing and feel the need to exercise more. My wit is quicker, my mind faster, but my judgment is more impulsive.... And then after a few days... [I am] less directed toward action than toward interaction, less toward pride than toward lust.

The odd thing is that, however much experience I have with it, this lust peak still takes me unawares.... It creeps up on you. It is only a few days later that I look back and realize that I spent hours of the recent past socializing in a bar or checking out every potential date who came vaguely over my horizon. You realize more acutely than before that lust is a chemical. It comes; it goes. It waxes; it wanes. You are not helpless in front of it, but you are certainly not fully in control.


How a wife is to manage testosterone surges in her husband and keep him committed to her, Ziva did not address, although I suspect she'd champion taharat hamishpacha. But she says she doesn't charge for her matchmaking services, so I'm going to try to meet with her. Whether I'll be able to keep myself from touching men I date is anybody's guess.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, January 26, 2009

Facebook follies

Zoya and I started an interesting status update thread. She friended someone I know who is not a nice guy. I emailed her to let her know that. She then posted:

Zoya just heard disturbing news. Jewish guys behaving badly is not good news for our community...

I chimed in:

girls need to stick together

And then Dopey threw in his 2 cents:

Jewish girls behaving badly is worse news! Why do you think we mostly marry shiksas? Do you think we grow up wanting to marry shiksas??

Um, issues much? I wrote:

need a porter to help you with that baggage, Dopey?

He reacted with:

At least I don't post my baggage on FB for all the world to see! Now go take some challah kneeding classes and chap yourself a husband, yenta!

Zoya responded:

Dopey I have heard nice things abt u so far, so don't spoil it.

He spoiled it:

nice?? I'm a BAD Jewish boy, and proud of it! All you yentas can kiss my tsits-tsits!

Sheesh. I can't let him say that to Zoya!

bad? that's pretty obvious, and it doesn't seem like any of us will be kissing you anywhere anytime soon

Zoya is nicer than I am:

Dopey u seem very insecure to me. I'll be in ur city soon. If I'm unlucky then u might run into me. U def should stick with the shiksas because Jewish girls just don't kiss tzitsit :)

And he said:

insecure?? lol! I guess my reputation does not precede me. Just for that, I'm going to run into you in my Chabad On Wheels truck! You'll be kissin' a shit-load of tsits-tsists before I'm done with you!

Oh-kay. Now Zoya's scared. She emails me:

What in the hell is Dopey trying to say to me?? Is he trying to be cocky, funny or a plain asshole?? I'm too tired and not getting the "humor" there.

I wrote back:

I think he's an asshole. I'm not sure why he's being so obnoxious, and that's the simplest explanation. How do you know him? Have you met him in person or is he just a FB friend?

She responded:

FB friend only. Chaya once said that we might hit it off and that he is nice but obnoxious. What's his tone on the wall??? What did he mean by that stmnt when I run into u w/my chabad truck and by the time I'm done with u???

I wrote:

Just obnoxious. I think he was teasing -- trying to establish control/dominance. He didn't really mean to sound like a rapist.

Zoya was confused.

And why would a guy I never met would try to establish control/dominance?

Ah, to be that innocent....

Because that's what guys do. They piss on things to mark their territory.

And people wonder why I'm still single... I also had a little IM with Rochel, the dating coach.

Ayelet: so there's a guy I was set up with, and he's called twice, and I don't talk more than 10 minutes, and he still hasn't asked me out

The rule is, talk for 10 minutes and then say goodbye, because you're a busy and happy person.

Rochel: then he was not really interested, some guys are BORED qand looking for a pen pal or a girl to talk to

Ayelet: u think so? I think he just talks too much and doesn't get to the point

Rochel: I do ! I know so -- bored and lonely he would have asked you out! that is more proof I am right

Ayelet: ok, it just seems weird since we were set up thru a shadchan, but I trust ur judgment; also, he talks and talks and talks and it's kind of boring

Rochel: something is off about this, he would have kept you on the entire night!

Ayelet: well, his social skills aren't the best; and yes, he probably would have kept me on the phone all night, that's why I ended it after 10 min.

Rochel: he either wants a date or not!

Ayelet: if he wants a date, he'll ask me for one, and if he just wants to talk, I don't have time for him

Rochel: good you did! even more so for the ones you really like

Ayelet: I will definitely work on keeping that in mind

Rochel: my point exactly! this is true even in nonsexual relationships -- it is selfish just to have a phone relationship, who has the time? adults socialize in person... more so with a date, he was way out of line!

Ayelet: got it

I'll see if he calls again. If he doesn't, I guess it's no great loss.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, January 25, 2009

My life could suck worse

One of my Facebook friends posted this status update:

Jane Doe is thinking another good reason that I received my "get" before my ex passed away... would have had to marry his horrible brother!!!

A friend of hers whom I don't know commented:

You watched the made for tv movie?

That would be "Loving Leah." Jane responded:

watching it now... why not. taking my mind off this week's MRI/MRA

Ouch. That's never good. Okay -- so I've never been married, I live in a studio apartment, and I don't have nearly as much sex as I'd like to. But I've also never been divorced, and I'm not dreading an impending MRI/MRA. Which sounds like she might have... some kind of cancer? Brain? Breast? Not good. So I wrote:

I don't know what to say beyond, I hope nothing unusual shows up on the MRI/MRA.

She answered:

that's what we are hoping as well. It's for my daughter, a possible AVM... not really sure where they are thinking....but somewhere on the lower part of the head upper neck. We shall see. Optimistic. thanks for the words of encouragement.

Oy. Not her, but her daughter. What's an AVM? I'm even afraid to Google it. She must be out of her mind with worry. I can't do anything to make her feel better.

Or can I?

my sister is a pediatric radiologist, in case u want a second opinion. brachas for you both
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Blogged out?

I went to Brooklyn for Shabbat, again, and had fun. My hostess was beyond gracious and showered me with gifts -- kind of the opposite of what's supposed to happen. Meals, onegs, hanging out. All good. But I don't feel like writing about it. Interesting stuff happened, but somehow I don't want to talk about it.

Two days without the light box -- I guess that's a little too long. Or maybe I'm blogged out and don't feel like writing about myself anymore. My boss says narcissism is at the root of all personality disorders -- I wonder if it's at the root of all mental disorders. Especially mine.

I'm also a little achy from shlepping a suitcase full of clothes, shoes, and about 25 pounds of skin and hair care products. Next Shabbos I'm going to Brooklyn again, but I think I'll go home Saturday night. Shabbos after that I'm supposed to go to Brooklyn again -- we'll see if I'm up for it, or if at least I can get a ride back into Manhattan.

I came home today and moped around for a bit, then volunteered to babysit for Shuli's kids so she and her husband could get some shopping done. Also wanted facetime with them, since I usually only see them on Shabbos and I don't want them to forget me. It was easy -- I held the baby and read to the other two. Then I came home and did more nothing -- watching old movies on youtube, surfing idly on Facebook.

Until Captain Best Effort emailed me on Frumster, asking how I was doing. I didn't want to ignore him, so I quickly sent back:

fine, thank you, hope you are well

I'm not asking how he is, because that would suggest I want him to respond. It was supposed to send a clear message of indifference. Apparently it failed.

i am doing fine just wanted to see how you doing... hope we can chit chat

P.S those pic of you are much pretier then ones you had before

AAARRRGGGHHH! Yes, those pictures of me in the red dress are hot. No, I don't want to go out with you again! Well, that's what I wanted to say. But I limited myself to:

thanks, but I don't really think we have anything to chat about -- be well

That message he seems to have gotten.

I'm also a little annoyed at yet another man 13 years my senior who thought he could be cute and win my favor:

hello pretty, how are you doing,i like what i read in your profile and you have every qualities am looking for in a woman. pls get back to me on my creepy_oldfart@yahoo.com Hope to hear from you

Of course I have everything you're looking for, you ugly bald almost-pedophile -- I'm 13 years younger than you! Didn't you read in my profile that I don't date men more than 10 years my senior? Of course you didn't -- you've sporting those "age-inappropriate" blinders that so many men of your generation, destined to die alone, persist in wearing.

I blocked him and reported him as inappropriate to the Frumster authorities. It's bad netiquette to give someone your off-site email address in the first communication, and also to proposition them when they have absolutely no interest in meeting you. He seems to have suspended his membership -- apparently Frumster isn't producing the results he's looking for. Maybe he should try a mail-order bride.

Whaddya know... I guess I still have some blogging left in me.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tarot reading

Last night I hung out with some friends and friends-of-friends, one of whom apparently reads Tarot cards from a Kaballah perspective. I sat down with some apprehension.

"What do you want to ask the cards?" Tarot Reader (TR) asked seriously.

"I want to know if I'm going to get married," I said. I shuffled the cards and cut them with my non-dominant hand. He dealt out three rows of three cards and turned over the middle row -- the Prince of Swords, Success, and Chance.

"This is you, your personal life," he said. "It's good! The Prince of Swords -- that's your man! He's in his forties."

"You get that from these cards?" I asked.

"Yes. But it's not literal," he reassured me. "He won't have green skin." The image on the card has green skin and numerous arms holding swords.

"I'm assuming he'll only have 2 arms," I deadpanned.

"Yes," he said seriously. He turned over three more cards -- many of which had more swords on them. One was the Empress of something, holding a man's decapitated head by its hair.

"The Empress is you. He's got issues," noted TR, "and you're going to consider rejecting him." I suppose no one's perfect. So I should be on the lookout for someone slightly older than I am with a lot of baggage. Considering how much I carry, I really should be pretty tolerant.

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

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Update

Where's my dating life right now?

DIB hasn't called. Neither have LL or WWC, although I still see them surfin' Frumster. And AFG hasn't reached out again. I hate being patient.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

DIB resurfaces

I kept seeing DIB on Frumster. He hadn't read the last message I sent him, but I was curious, so I sent him an IM anyway:

Ayelet: so what happened
DIB: sorry got preoccupied with a family matter
Ayelet: oh -- sorry to hear that, hope everything's ok
DIB: thanks, how have you been
Ayelet: very well, thanks, work's good
DIB: what do you do

Hasn't he read my profile yet?

Ayelet: I'm a clinical social worker
DIB: in a private organization
Ayelet: yes, a private not-for-profit agency
DIB: just looking at your picture
Ayelet: ok
DIB: is this a recent photo?

No, it's from college. And why is your photo password-protected?

Ayelet: which one? in the red dress? that's from this past New Year's
what's ur password?
DIB: you are gorgeous
Ayelet: (blush) thanks
DIB: DIB11216
blushing thats soooo cute

Glad you think so.

DIB: would you have gone out without seeing it?
Ayelet: probably, but now I'll be a lot less worried ;)
I approve of the glasses and the chest hair

Then his IM window closed abruptly. Was it something I said? After a few tries, I re-established contact.

Ayelet: hi
DIB: hi, so what happened before
Ayelet: not sure, u got disconnected
DIB: did you see my pic
Ayelet: yes, very nice
I approve of the glasses and chest hair ;)
DIB: thats all?
Ayelet: and the rest ain't bad ;)
DIB: thanks
Ayelet: anytime
DIB: just a question in a nutshell what are your goals for the next year?

That's a pretty big honkin' nutshell.

Ayelet: publish an article, progress at work, and get engaged and/or married... yours?
DIB: and what is the order of importance?
Ayelet: get engaged is top priority, but the hardest to achieve
DIB: same here... and kids?
Ayelet: would like as many as I can handle
DIB: i had to ask

On IM? Isn't this the type of question you ask over, say, coffee or dinner?

Ayelet: how about u?
DIB: same, i need to find someone, and soon
Ayelet: so when are we going out to dinner? ;)
DIB: i am getting desperate

Great. He's asking me out because he's desperate.

Ayelet: desperate is not a good quality
DIB: i know i know, its hard to find someone homely and warm
nowadays everyone likes to keep a distance; i grew up differently

I think by "homely" he doesn't mean unattractive but "haimish."

Ayelet: so when are we going out to dinner? ;)
DIB: so no comment about what i said :-)
we could go out either in the end of this week or beginning of next
Ayelet: it is definitely hard to find someone warm and sweet
DIB: are you warm and sweet?
Ayelet: of course, but I also have an edge
DIB: an edge?
Ayelet: I'm witty
DIB: thats a very good thing then

People often tell me I'm too sharp and critical, that it's not an attractive quality. Am I warm and sweet? I guess, but I'm also sarcastic. Which I edited to "witty."

Ayelet: let's talk on the phone tomorrow night
DIB: ok, and your number is?
Ayelet: 212-xxx-xxxx
DIB: and your name is?
Ayelet: Ayelet
DIB: Ayelet and DIB
Ayelet: od yishama... ;) good night, chalomot paz
DIB: thanks, to you too

We'll see if he calls tonight.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, January 19, 2009

Screw The Rules

I'm too impatient. I saw AFG was online after sending him my last email, so I took a chance and IMed him. After exchanging greetings, he wrote:

AFG: i have a crazy theory

Okay....

Ayelet: about?

AFG: sweat

Oh-kay...

AFG: I just got home from bikram

Ayelet: is that hot yoga?

AFG: yes -- I think that if you sweat enough the sweat becomes so clean that you are actually clean. does that sound nuts?

Kinda...

Ayelet: I'm not sure if that's nuts
I think if you start out fairly clean and you sweat a lot, it's a clean sweat

AFG: i take my shower at home instead of at the place, but I haven't gone in yet and I actually feel perfectly clean.

Ayelet: from here you smell fine ;)

AFG: lol, you are just being overpowered by all the pheremones released when I sweated a few gallons

Ayelet: yes, even during ur dvar Torah I was almost overcome, couldn't you tell when I came up to talk to you about what you said? ;)

AFG: lol

Okay. So we know he exercises. This is good. I used to exercise...

Ayelet: ever done kundalini yoga?

AFG: no, is that the one where they use a lot of props?

Ayelet: no; the last yoga class I took was kundalini, it's very intense; I could barely walk the next day

Last yoga class I took was years ago, but whatever.

AFG: what is it like? ashtanga?

Ayelet: harder

AFG: hmmm, i need to try it sometime

Ayelet: took it at Practice Yoga on 83rd, ever been there?

AFG: I think I was there once, I used to go to Equinox tons

Ayelet: not my scene

AFG: but I moved to Bermuda for two years

Ayelet: so I heard

AFG: now that i'm back I joined again, why isn't equinox your scene?

Ayelet: I'm a social worker, it's too expensive ;) I can pay my rent, or I can join the upscale gym
so ur definitely back from Bermuda?

AFG: thats what it looks like

Ayelet: one of my social work profs went there to develop their poverty level

AFG: interesting... that is my transitional issue :)

Ayelet: yeah, he's an interesting guy

AFG: what were his conclusions about poverty level?

Ayelet: it's relative -- different in Bermuda than in the U.S. because prices are so different and wage levels are too

AFG: many people are "working poor" there, but not much abject poverty, too many jobs and immigration is so strict on non-bermudians

Ayelet: unlike here
so y did u leave a place with plenty of jobs to come back to the US? ;)

AFG: I am unfortunately not leaving of my own volition -- I am in the midst of a very intense war at work

Nice way to put your foot in it, Ayelet.

Ayelet: sorry to hear that, can't be fun

AFG: thanks, I think I will end up ok, but it isn't fun

Ayelet: b'ezrat Hashem, I'm sure it isn't; work stress is very bad for the back, among other things

AFG: especially considering I was employee #1 and built the whole thing, and now I am kinda gonna get screwed
hopefully I will walk away with a decent package -- that's what I am working on now, and then on to the next challenge

Ayelet: :( guess nice guys finish last sometimes

AFG: thanks :) that was sweet of you.

Ayelet: and sometimes the changes we don't want lead us to things we never thought we'd want but do; I've been fired from a few jobs, and it always led me somewhere better

AFG: Amen. Thanks for your support. Hopefully that will be the case.
Have a great night -- talk to you again soon. :)

I guess that's it. For now at least. I'm definitely not making the next move.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Not sure what to think

So a widower with one child (WWC) has been looking at my profile a few times a day since I posted the New Year's Eve pics of me in the red dress. He wasn't a paying member, so he couldn't email or IM him, or read emails from me. I could have IMed him, but I'm playing by The Rules these days. I finally sent him an email to get him to become a full member and contact me:

Subject: take a picture...
Message: it will last longer ;) how are you?

Today his curiosity got the better of him. He read the message and contacted me via IM:

WWC: so i finally got the courage to im you
Ayelet: bravo ;) am I that intimidating?
WWC: no just been through alot of sh...

A little crude, but not too bad. Right?

Ayelet: haven't we all ;)
WWC: are you sfardi, and what do you do

Kind of abrupt, but I can roll with it.

Ayelet: no, Polish/German
I see you haven't read my profile, or you'd know what I do ;)
I'm a clinical social worker
WWC: give me a sec i will go back and read it again . i dont want you to think i was only looking at your ......

I hope he means my picture. I'll assume he means my picture.

Ayelet: it's a pretty good picture, u don't have to apologize ;)
I just look sephardia, r u sephardi?
WWC:the top half, just kidding

Groan.

Ayelet: the half that enables you to eat rice on Pesach? ;)
WWC: no
Ayelet: what a shame
my mom was born in Tashkent, but her parents were from Poland
WWC: what the h... is tashkent

Not the most refined way to ask.

Ayelet: it's a city in Uzbekistan
WWC: wait i know i ate it for lunch, it was sweet

That's... not funny. That's just stupid.

Ayelet: I guess u don't travel much ;)
WWC: i do not want to go to disney mom i want to go to Uzbekistan

Okay – is that ignorant and obnoxious, or am I being “picky”?

Ayelet: I'd actually love to go there to see where my mother spent her first few years
WWC: did you ever think i would say that to my folks

Well, you said it to me.

Ayelet: where is ur mom from?
WWC: well just because i havent a clue where Tashkent is does not mean i do not travel, my mom is from galaruah, did you ever hear of that
Ayelet: no
WWC: you must not travel, it in Swaziland

That’s more obnoxious.

Ayelet: I didn't ask you what the h-- is galaruah
Swaziland South Africa? how interesting!
WWC: wow i was just kidding

And that’s just juvenile. What a stupid "joke"

WWC: do you have curly hair or

Or what? It's blown out straight in the picture.

Ayelet: hair is naturally wavy/frizzy, so I try to straighten it as best I can
WWC: is it like an afro

Huh?

Ayelet: no, just frizzy. What do u look like?

He doesn't have a picture posted. Describes himself as 5'11" and athletic build.

WWC: 5'11, full head of hair, not gray but all black
i try to run 3-5 miles a day but im not in great shape i weigh 225-235
im prob in better shape now then when i was 16, i am proportional
Ayelet: ok
WWC: although im told somtimes i have a big head
Ayelet: as long as ur ego isn't oversized ;)
WWC: so are you psychoanalyzing me
Ayelet: no, I'm a behaviorist ;)
WWC: please explain
Ayelet: I'm not a psychoanalyst, I'm a cognitive-behavioral therapist
WWC: so what the he.. does that mean

Crude and ignorant. This guy is allegedly a medical doctor. Didn’t he do a psych rotation? Does he know nothing about psychiatry? I sent him wikipedia links about both.

Ayelet: what kind of doctor are you?
WWC: all this reading wow i actualy get an education
Ayelet: you asked ;)
WWC: give me a sec i want to read
Ayelet: ok
WWC: you type fast i had to look for the "o" and the "k"
Ayelet: yes, I think typing was the most valuable class I took in high school
WWC: i need to answer a phone call can i get back to you i want to print this out and read it is that ok
Ayelet: sure, we'll talk later

Not sure how interested I am in him. But it’s a first contact, and he is trying. I guess I should give him the benefit of the doubt.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Playing by The Rules

Another Facebook Guy (AFG) wrote to me last night. I held out until 4:28 p.m. today to respond:

Shavua tov. The melava malka was lovely, would have been nice to see you there too. We went to the Piamenta concert later -- for an old guy, he sure rocks out! ;)

AFG wrote back at 5:25, while I was chatting with Gloria Chang and watching a screwball comedy from the 1930s on youtube.

Where was the melave malka? I don't think I had heard about it.

I read it at about 5:26. But I don't want to seem to eager. I want him to pursue me. So I waited until 5:41 to respond.

A guy named Yossie Wohlender, one of my Facebook friends, publicized it on on here -- I assumed *everyone* heard about it ;)

It was held at MJE. They had a good band. Pizza, soda, Twizzlers, pretzels. It was fun.

How are you?


I think that sounds about right. Three minutes later, he sent:

Wow. Sounds pretty cool. I am doing basically ok. I am going through some stuff at work, which is pretty stressful, but otherwise doing well. I saw Slumdog Millionaire on Saturday night - it was pretty intense. Have you seen it?

Okay, good, we're getting a conversation going. I watched the movie for a while longer, then sent this at 5:56:

Haven't seen it -- I like watching movies for distraction and escape, so I tend to go for comedies, fantasy/sci-fi, and period dramas. Life is stressful enough ;) I'm looking forward to "The Watchmen."

Sorry about the work stress. I hope it works itself out soon.

I'll keep you all posted...

Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Busy Shabbos

I was excited Friday afternoon -- my friends Chaya and Zoya were in town, and we had plans. Friday night, Chaya and I and our friend Sophie were having dinner at a friend's. Shabbos lunch, we were all going to Ruchama's (and I had some more of my cast-off shoes for Tikva). Saturday night we planned to hit a melava malka and then take in a Piamenta concert. He's a Moroccan/Lubavitch rock star.

Chaya and Zoya are both very attractive, and sometimes I feel like the moon around them. If the sun has set, people notice the moon. If the sun is out -- not so much. At dinner, I felt ignored. Not by the host, who's a friend of mine, but by every other man in the room. I wouldn't have cared except one of them was kind of cute. I did meet a very interesting woman who has a PhD in experimental psychology from Harvard and now conducts opinion polls and market research, so talking to her was fun.

After dinner Chaya, Sophie, and I went to another person's meal, and again I felt ignored by all the men there -- except Facebook Guy. Who is such a sweet person, and I so wish I could like him. He hinted that he'd like for us to go out again and told me how pretty I looked. But we're just not compatible. I need someone who's quick-witted, not someone who needs me to explain the jokes in "Get Smart." I realize he was raised chassidish, but still.

Shabbos day I hung out with Shuli & Co. Baruch didn't sneeze on me, and he let me pick him up right from his nap, which is a big sign of trust. Elimelech also craved my attention and we read a few books. Then Chaya, Zoya, and I went to lunch, which was also lots of fun, although Tikva had a play date and didn't pay too much attention to me. She sure loved the shoes, though.

After lunch we decided to go to shalosh seudos. I don't know many people who go to that particular shul, and my one previous experience with shalosh seudos there wasn't great, but I was with friends so it didn't matter.

One of the people who gave a dvar Torah was a Facebook friend of mine. I've seen him on Frumster for a while, and then somehow we became friends on Facebook, but I'd never met him. I mentioned to Chaya and Zoya that I sort of knew him.

"Go say hi!" said Chaya. "He's cute!!!" He is cute. Prematurely gray -- actually silver-white -- with blue eyes. A little chubby, but who am I to talk?

"Go tell him you liked his dvar Torah!" insisted Zoya. I actually did. He included some concepts from prominent rabbis that were very reminiscent of the principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy.

"I don't know..." I hazarded.

"GO!!!!" they commanded. I went. He was talking to the shul's rabbi. I felt like an idiot waiting for him to notice me, but he finally did.

"Hi, I'm Ayelet Survivor," I said. "We're friends on Facebook, I think."

"We are," he said. "Nice to meet you in real life." I think I'll call him Another Facebook Guy (AFG).

"Likewise," I said, and told him how much I liked his dvar Torah. We chatted for a minute, then it was time for ma'ariv, so I went back to my friends.

"What did he say?" they asked almost in unison. I recapped the conversation.

"I was davening for you!" said Chaya. She's so adorable. We went upstairs for maariv and havdalah, then bundled up to go home. Outside, we stood on the corner discussing our plans for the evening. AFG and another gentleman walked by.

"Shavua tov -- it was nice meeting you, Ayelet," he said again.

"You too -- shavua tov!" I said.

Chaya and Zoya started squealing as soon as he was out of earshot. "He likes you! He likes you! OMG Ayelet, this could be it!"

"Slow down, girls," I said. "How are we meeting up tonight?" We agreed to meet up at the melava malka. I went home and of course immediately logged onto Facebook, changing my status update to:

Ayelet is looking forward to the melava malka!

Then I took a shower, and when I rechecked Facebook, I had an email. From AFG.

Thanks for introducing yourself earlier this evening. It was nice to meet you in person and to hear your insights on my talk. Enjoy the melava malka :).

I decided to play by The Rules and not answer right away. I'll write back tonight or tomorrow. Instead, I got ready and went to the melava malka, which was very nice -- saw a lot of friends. Most of whom took tons of photos of everyone there. I'm getting more comfortable at looking at photos of myself at this weight and not feeling disgusted. Also, I was rocking a new red top that fits perfectly and felt pretty confident.

Then we went to the Piamenta concert with some other really cool friends... and in walked G.I. Josh and Sophie. Which felt uncomfortable. Should I warn her that he's emotionally abusive, commitment-phobic and not really shomer shabbat? I guess she'll find out in time.

It was very loud but a lot of fun. I developed a mild crush on the keyboardist until I found out he's 16.

Today I'm going to go to an engagement party for another Facebook friend. Unfortunately, it's in Brooklyn, but Chaya and I are traveling together so it should be a lot of fun. Despite the torrential snow ;)
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Snappish

When I get 5 or fewer hours of sleep per night, almost every night, I get kind of snappish. It's been noticed, and not favorably, by my boss and a few other people at work. I'm terrified of losing this job, so I'm desperately seeking help. Even from Dr. Wanker, whom I really did not like.

Dear Dr. Wanker,

Last spring you gave a lecture to my evidence-based practice class on depression treatments. I graduated in May and am now working. One of my clients is a high-functioning woman with bipolar disorder that has a very seasonal component. She has been using a light box but is complaining of terminal insomnia and overactivation almost to the point of hypomania.


She and I went through the online questionnaire you told us about, and apparently she is supposed to use it when she is using it, in the morning, but she doesn’t know how long to use it, how many days per week, etc. I was wondering if you knew of anyone she could consult for help with this. Her current psychiatrist has been maintaining her medications but does not have any experience with light boxes.

I emailed him yesterday evening. No answer so far. I wonder if he remembers who I am, and if that would deter him from helping me. Doctors aren't supposed to judge or bear grudges, but they're only human, and psychiatrists are even more human than other doctors.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The most humiliating date story ever

Ever been on a date that was so awful, you just wanted to throw up? Well, I was having a terrific time with a fellow I actually liked and found attractive -- and I threw up.

Dating in the frum community is a little like dating in Grover's Corners: Everybody knows you, and from the first moment a pairing is suggested the questions fly -- do you think it's a good match? Is he smart enough for her? Is she religious enough for him? So the lack of privacy is abject.

My friend Carmella met Naftali one afternoon at a Shabbos lunch hosted by Eric and Ahuva. Carmella mentioned to me that she thought Naftali would be a good person for me to get to know; I called Ahuva and asked, "Do you think it's a good idea?" She said she'd talk to Eric and get back to me.

The next Shabbos, Carmella and I were standing outside synagogue when a very handsome young gentleman walked up, nodded hello to Carmella and entered the synagogue. I said, "Who's that? He's cute!"

"Oh, that's that guy Naftali, the one I thought would be good for you," said Carmella, "but I don't know. He might be too young."

I was scheduled to have lunch with Eric and Ahuva that afternoon -- as was Naftali -- so I asked them what they thought before he got there. "I don't know if he's mature enough," said Ahuva. Eric disagreed. "For the right girl," he said, "Naftali is mature enough." I wasn't sure I liked the sound of that, but figured it couldn't hurt to have Eric slip Naftali my phone number.

During lunch Naftali was attentive and charming. Eric called me Sunday morning, all a-twitter. "I saw Naftali at shacharit today," he said, "and told him, 'There's a certain person I know who wants to get to know you better.' Naftali said, 'Well, I'd like to get to know her better, so can you give me her phone number? And don't bother telling me anything about her, because if there's anything I want to know, I'll ask her myself.'"

Naftali called Monday night and we made plans to have dinner in Teaneck, New Jersey, where we were less likely to run into people we knew; both of us value our privacy. He gave me a choice of restaurants: dairy, meat, fish, or Chinese, which is what we settled on.

"Do you want dessert?" he asked as the dinner dishes were being cleared. "Life's too short to go without it."

Big mistake.

Dessert in a Chinese restaurant is usually candied lychee, sliced pineapple, and fortune cookies. Splitting a piece of chocolate layer cake was not a wise decision. I don't know how long it had been sitting there, but I doubt it was fresh; it certainly wasn't refrigerated.

After dinner, we went to fill up his gas tank and drive through the car wash. (Whee!) Then he decided to take me on a romantic drive along the Jersey shore to look at the Manhattan skyline.

The view was stunning. The car was not too hot and not too cold. The music on the radio was soft. And I started to feel... queasy.

At first I ignored it; then the discomfort grew stronger. "Do you feel funny?" I asked Naftali.

"I'm fine," he said. "Are you okay? Do you want me to stop the car?"

"No, no, I'm all right," I said. "I just feel a little funny."

We drove on, and I felt worse and worse. "I am not going to throw up," I told myself. "I am not going to throw up." That mantra became, "I am not going to throw up until I get home." Which gave way to, "I need to get out of the car." Spoken aloud in tones of urgency.

Naftali pulled over by a beautiful apartment complex on the water, and I stumbled out. I heard the car door slam.

"You don't have to get out," I said.

"Do you want me to hold your hair?" he asked anxiously.

"No, no, I'm fine," I said. "I think I just needed some fresh air."

I inhaled slowly and exhaled carefully. I turned around and almost didn't recognize him. The wisecracking demeanor had cracked. He looked concerned and, dare I say it, tender. I was reminded that he's an EMT, trained in first aid. Of all the men I've dated -- except maybe the gastroenterologist -- Naftali was probably the best equipped to deal with such a situation.

"I'll take you home," he said. We drove through the Holland Tunnel -- that was another mistake; the diesel fumes did not help. I felt awful.

"I don't think I'm going to make it home," I groaned.

"We'll go to Mendy's," Naftali said -- the uptown branch of the restaurant Seinfeld made famous, unfortunately now closed. "You can throw up there." But three blocks from Mendy's, I said, "Please stop the car." Again I stumbled out -- and, for the first time in my life, threw up in the street.

I was in agony. It was cold; I was shaking. Naftali bought me a bottle of water and draped my coat, which I had left in the car, around my shoulders.

"I'm sorry," I sniffled. "I'm so sorry. It's really not you."

"Don't apologize," said Naftali. "It happens."

"Not on dates," I wailed.

"Don't worry," he said. "I have eight nieces and nephews. I've dealt with a lot of vomit and other things I won't mention."

He drove me home. At my door, Naftali said, "Don't go into work tomorrow if you're not feeling better. I'll call you."

Words I've heard a million times before -- and yet, he called that morning to see if I was feeling better (I was; I was at work) and called again that night.

On Friday night I regaled my friends at synagogue with "the most humiliating date story ever," which they found hilarious. But beyond the hilarity of the situation, my friends were impressed with the way Naftali handled it. Even more impressive was the fact that he made plans to go out with me again.

Another friend of mine, Derek, is a physicist -- a very, very bright guy. Like all physicists, he is awash in theories -- even has one about people who throw up on dates.

"If you throw up on a date," Derek says, "one of two things will happen: Either you will never see that person again, or you will get married."

I was hoping to prove his theory correct. Unfortunately, our second date was our last, and Naftali is now married with -- last I heard -- two children.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Shiva duty

My lovely friend Bina just lost her father, so I shlepped into Brooklyn twice to console her. Sunday night I went with Alona, and we stayed for a little while but not too long. Monday night I left work at 6 (relatively early) and went to the shiva apartment. Some friends were there but left; I stayed. (Also there were Asher's 20something nieces, whom I met at the wedding. I found out they appreciate my captions on the numerous Ziva photos Asher posts online. Nice to have fans.)

Bina looked drawn and drained, holding her sleeping daughter. She's still breast-feeding Ziva on demand, and Ziva's off her schedule and quite demanding; in addition, Ziva picked up a stomach bug and has been vomiting on Bina on a regular basis. Also, Asher is a night owl -- so Bina hasn't been getting enough sleep for quite some time.

"Have you eaten anything?" I asked. I picked up a menu from Garden of Eat-In on the way to the apartment, figuring that we could order in if need be. It's not gourmet, but it's edible.

"I had lunch.... Some friends are sending something over for dinner," Bina said wearily. She picked up an album of family pictures and started showing me 30-year-old (and older) shots of her young parents, several late relatives, and her brother's pidyon ha-ben (he's now a father of 11 with a long grey beard).

People are awkward around death, which is odd because we all encounter it. I guess we're uncomfortable with pain and trauma. I react by trying to make the avelim laugh as much as possible. Maybe it's a little inappropriate, but how better to comfort a mourner than by helping them release some tension and forget the pain for a moment? I'd have given Bina a backrub, but I'm quite sure mourners aren't supposed to indulge in massage during shiva.

Fortunately, Bina is quite a fashionista, and all I had to do, to crack her up, was to say, "Check out that col-lar, Mis-ter Kot-ter!" It was the 70s. Many fashion mistakes were immortalized on film.

A neighbor boy delivered food in a foil pan, and moments later several more of Bina's friends arrived. I went into the kitchen, where Bina's husband Asher was checking out the contents. Chicken; kugel; pilaf. Shabbat leftovers. Smelled awesome.

"Bina needs to eat," I said to Asher.

He hesitated. "I don't think she feels comfortable eating in front of people," he said.

Granted, he's married to Bina and they share a child, but I've known her much longer, so I pulled rank. "She needs to eat," I repeated. "How about you fix her a plate?" Involving people in something usually makes them more willing to go along with it. He complied, and after washing some cherries and putting them into a bowl, I brought the plate to Bina, chatting listlessly with the new arrivals.

"Have some dinner, Bina," I said kindly but firmly. I felt like a nurse. Bina shifted a sleeping Ziva into my arms; I'd made up a bed for the baby on the sofa, with sheets from the linen closet, but every time we put her down she woke up. Bina picked up her fork and finished most of it, which I was glad to see. By the time she was done Ziva started to wake up, so I gave her back to Bina. Just in time -- the baby threw up all over her. Oysh. I canNOT afford to get sick, so I gave Bina some paper towels but tried to keep some distance.

Another friend of Bina's, who lives in the neighborhood, offered to launder Bina's torn blouse so she wouldn't have to destroy another one (Orthodox Jews wear torn clothes during shiva as a sign of mourning). I felt that Bina was in good hands, so I left -- and called a friend planning a Tuesday visit, suggesting he bring some PediaLyte for the baby.

Shiva calls aren't as much fun as organizing a shabbat kallah, shopping for an engagement ring, planning a bridal shower, writing and singing a song, stuffing invitation envelopes, or dancing at a wedding. But I'm glad I've been able to do all this for Bina.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, January 12, 2009

Disappointment/encouragement

Today I heard from Yet Another Iraqi. And was let down. He sent an IM that converted into an email because I logged off the site:

hey cutie :) how goes the search?

Damn. Don't talk to me like I'm your sister or a friend! Still, I responded optimistically:

you're in luck -- I'm still available ;) sorry, I can't IM at work

I could IM at work, but it's not a good idea when Iceman's on the prowl. This morning he had the front desk call me to ask me to fill out some other counselor's paperwork so he could submit a urine sample. I got 2 master's degrees to do paperwork like a flunky? Apparently.

Is YAI going to take the bait?

Lol..well I bet you won't be single for long. Just wanted to check in on you and see how you're doing. I've been absorbed in work lately as well. Although lucky for me, it doesn't prohibit me from IM'ing ;). Good luck in your search and keep me updated sweetie :)

Apparently not. I have been single for long, and he's not helping. Whatever. But at least I have good friends. Gloria Chang and I were IMing on Facebook last night, discussing the dreadful situation in Gaza and how dangerous it can be to be Jewish. I said, half jokingly, "Well, if Islamo-fascists take over the U.S., I know I can hide in your basement!"

"I'll make my kitchen kosher," she responded immediately. I love her.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bad Shabbos

Thursday and Friday I had jury duty. Thursday I was dismissed at 12:30 p.m., to Iceman's great relief -- I was able to facilitate my anger management group. But Friday morning, I was sent to a sweltering small room in civil court to endure a slow and excruciating voir dire. The overly affable, shmoozy plaintiff's attorney was taking forever to ask us whether we could be objective if selected to try the case, a personal injury lawsuit involving elevators.

All of the attorneys had Jewish names -- the PI guy, the building owners' attorney, and the elevator repair company's attorney. But the PI guy went first, and he shmoozed like he was at a cocktail party. "You went to Dalton? Were you on the chess team? Did you have a good lunch?"

I got antsier and antsier, since Shabbat was creeping closer and closer. On our lunch break I went to the room where you go to settle issues like this and was told there was nothing they could do, it would have to be settled courtside and it was my fault for reporting for jury duty on a Thursday, when I knew the next day was Friday and I'd have to leave early. I didn't know you could postpone after two postponements, but apparently that would have been a smarter move.

ARGH! When I got back to the stifling room, as soon as the shmoozer called my name and before he could ask how I and my lunch were (lunch was good; I had pizza and a salad, but he really doesn't need to know that, nor do the other jurors), I said, "I need to talk to you in the hallway." You go talk in the hallway if you think you might say something that would adversely affect anyone else's decision to serve on the case.

I quickly explained that I had been injured in a store, tried to get compensation, and was very dissatisfied with the whole process. Hated my lawyer, hated their lawyers, didn't get much money, still had pain every day. Also, I was anxious about getting home before Shabbos and this was taking forever.

The 3 attorneys exchanged a quick glance. I'm sure they thought I was unstable. At that point, I kinda was. I'd been trying to use the tools I try to teach in anger management group. Unsuccessfully. So I'd been stewing in the hot room, getting madder and madder as the attorney shmoozed all the other candidates. "You're from Pittsburgh? My father was from Pittsburgh. It's a real nice city. What made you leave it?" WHO CARES?

Well, apparently the lawyers do -- this is their chance to get to know the jury and how best to manipulate them. Or so a friend of mine, whom I ran into on the subway, explained. Which makes sense. I don't know if that would have helped me during jury selection. At least they could have called maintenance to lower the damn heat!

So the lawyers escorted me to the woman in charge of the jury pool. One even wished me "Shabbat shalom." Yeah, I'm a total kiddush Hashem. Another said mischievously, "I know you didn't like those lawyers in your case, but if you'd served on this case you'd have liked us!"

"No, I wouldn't have!" I snapped. "I can't stand that fake friendly shmooziness. It's driving me and all the other jurors crazy!"

They shut up then, and let the jury pool supervisor process me. Free to go, for six years. But I was so exhausted and frazzled from tamping down hours of rage that when I got home, instead of showering off the jury room sweat, I lay down and fell asleep. Missed the Shabbos dinner and lecture and oneg I was supposed to attend. And today I woke up and didn't feel like going to shul or even visiting anyone.

Using the light box is completely hit or miss. If I stop using it, I sleep better and my mood crashes. If I use it, I don't get enough sleep and I'm tired all the time. And my psychiatrist won't give me a sleep aid like Rozerem -- he hasn't had too much success with it -- or Lunesta. I asked. He refused.

As a result, each day I have to decide whether using the light box is a good idea. How I felt the day before -- do I need a boost or can I make it through and use the box tomorrow? And I don't always make the right decision. Clearly.

I'm not in control -- I'm too quick to anger. Always have been, and even more so when I'm slightly depressed, or manic, or in a mixed state. I felt like a hypocrite trying to use my anger management techniques and not really managing anything. Well -- I had considered yelling out "Get to the point!" a few times, and hadn't. I suppose that's something.

Another juror and I condoled in the elevator. "He is just wasting our fucking time!" she fumed. "Excuse my language."

"No apologies necessary," I said. "I wanted to throw my boot at him." She laughed -- probably thought it was a complete exaggeration. I wish it were.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, January 08, 2009

THEY think (former) mental patients deserve to get married

Some psychologist posted a question to the ABCT listserv:

I would like to get some of your advice on treating pregnancy phobia. Both women have other anxieties that they have worked through with exposure training, relaxation, cognitive re-structuring. Their specific thoughts about a potential pregnancy involve "loss of control" and "not being able to escape". I've tried re-framing with the idea that their own pregnancy is actually the ultimate in control as they are able to provide optimal nutitional and gestational conditions. Until they both get pregnant, exposure is tough and they are both avoiding pregnancy but want to have children. Any advice or literature would be appreciated.

Another psychologist responded:

I think this is a situation for "just do it" (pun intended).

But some work with mindfulness might be helpful....i.e., the anxious thoughts are there; they are getting in the way; be aware of them — but don't react to them. It's the reactivity that's the problem. In other words, we can get us overly focused on removing the anxiety. From how you describe this, it seems as that these women need to acknowledge the anxiety, have it be there, and then get on with it.

Almost restores my confidence in psychologists (and for a pun, that wasn't bad). Instead of telling the clients not to reproduce, they're seeking ways to facilitate the pregnancies. Reminds me that during the psychopharmacology session at the Nefesh conference, many of the clinicians asked about medications that were safe to use during pregnancy, a fairly common state among their clientele. I guess they disagree with The Rov.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Mazel tov, Matt

Matt Stein is no longer even more single than I am. He's engaged. To a beautiful, young babe he calls his "hummingbird." I'm happy for him -- but dreadfully envious of his luck. For years, it seemed that every person who complained to me about being single got married. The trend seems to have reawoken with Matt. I complain to myself about being single all the time, but no such luck.

Still haven't heard from LL (or YBH, for that matter), but I do see him all the time on Frumster. I guess that settles that. Although now I get to say "I told you so" to another smug person who married young and thinks their good fortune came from doing things right, rather than plain dumb luck.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Another delusional male

I am happy to report that I washed my hair and it is still much silkier and smoother than usual, even though I let it air dry. The keratin treatment appears to have been a worthwhile investment.

Less happy is the fact that yet another delusional male in his fifties seems to think I would want to date him. This one also lists himself as chassidish, and sports an enormous, frizzy grey beard.

BS"D
Dear Ms. Ayelet,

Clearly I am about three years over your age preference, so I am not asking you to cultivate a relationship with me as that is against your terms. Too bad though, as I reread your profile, I felt like we could be compatible. Would it help to say that I can act somewhat immature if the situation calls for it? I guess not, okay, I figured you are certainly worth all effort. But, okay. I'm not ordinary and it just won't work for me with someone who is. So be it. Good luck, and if Chas V'Shalom and a few more years pass and you change your mind and I'm still around, I won't slam the door in your face.

Delusional Male is 13 years older than I am, so he's really about 8 years older than I'm comfortable with. But how could he feel we'd be compatible by reading my profile, when the subject line of his email was "Very Nice New Photos"? (If I ever become a dating coach, I'm going to tell all women to wear red in their profile photo, with the caveat that this will increase unwelcome as well as welcome attention.)

More importantly, why can't he date women his own age?

DM, I appreciate the compliment, but not only are you much older than I am, you are chassidish and I am not at all interested in becoming chassidish or marrying someone who is chassidish. It is not remotely close to who I am.

I have a good friend who is a shadchanit and lives in Crown Heights. If you are interested in meeting women closer to your age and hashkafa, I would be happy to put you in touch with her.

He responded to one point, and one point only. But that at length.

BS"D
Dear Ms. Ayelet, AMUSh

In fact my Haskafa is Torah U'Maddah (a la' Rabbi Noramn Lamm of Yeshivah University); for over twenty five years, my learning of Gemara and Halacha is with Chevrusas, Rosh Yeshivas, Rosh Kollellim and Magid Shiruim, all of whom are Torah Va'das, Chiam Berlin, Mirrer, Slobdka, Chofetz Chaim, Yeshiva of Philadelphia, Ner Yisroel, Lakewood or Ponavitch; my Hasidic learning spans the gamit but my Minhagim are based on those of my Rebbe, Rabbi Michel Twerski, Shlita, he and his brothers were all university educated to advanced degrees. I had an office in Crown Heights for over eleven years, where I provided psychotherapy to individuals couples, and marriage and family counseling, and even play therapy with very young children. I respect the Torah of the Alter Rebbe and his disciples, HOWEVER, I AM NOT A LUBAVITCHER, thank very much, for your kind thought. I doesn't compensate for your prejudice, but that is after all your prerogative and I certainly wish you well, and hope that neither of us (and for that matter all of Khlal Yisroel) continue to require the services of these degrading cattle on parade websites very much longer and that the folks who do the noble work that they do by running Frumster, (I see no contradiction with the goodness of providing aid and the painful necessity of seeking it) find other even more ennobling things to do for their parnasa.

Anyway don't take offense. You are kind, and I certainly hold no grudge, but as you may be aware from first hand experience, nothing is as crushing to one's self worth than to put one's sincere heart on the line, only to be told that one simple isn't adequate for whatever the reason. But you should be commended for your decency, in that you didn't simply one button solution to telling people that their attention is unwelcome, in of course in a polite, sensitive, non-judgmental, yet nonetheless, heartless, sterile and dehumanizing manner. So Bravo to Ayelet!

Again best of luck, and may please Hashem grant all of us the sacred Shelaymos that comes from finding our own Beshert.

Gevalt. So we're both therapists. So what??? I thought there were some interesting ultra-orthodox therapists at the Nefesh conference, but I didn't want to date them. What the heck is AMUSh? And why don't men my own age chase me like this? Actually, I don't want them to chase me like this. I want them to be normal.

Still haven't heard from LL. I see him surfing Frumster all the time, though.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Approved

MVAIC just called to let me know they will cover the ambulance bill. I don't know if I'll get anything else, for pain and suffering yada yada, but that was the major concern. My insurance company agreed to pay the hospital bill once they found out it was a hit-and-run, so I'm really just out a couple hundred for doctor and acupuncture bills, Percocet, and TheraBands. Which I can take off my taxes.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

He forgives me, but does he like me?

First LL and I met for coffee near his office -- it's on my way home from work, and after messing up the Lion King date, I wanted to be as agreeable as possible. He offered coffee or drinks; I requested coffee. After my drunken first date with Jeff, I wanted to be on top of my game.

We met at 7. At 7:25 the barista told us they were closing at 7:30, which neither of us had realized. LL suggested we go for dinner. I must have made a good impression in those 25 minutes.

One thing I did was buy him a little gift. A friend suggested I do this to make amends. I bought him a copy of the Elton John Aida soundtrack -- it's very cool and, since EJ also wrote the Lion King soundtrack, the friend thought it would be a safe bet.

A key concept of success is surrounding yourself with good advisers. If Al Gore had listened to Bill Clinton instead of his 27-year-old daughter, we might have had a very different first decade this millennium. My friend was right; LL likes Elton John and seemed pleased by the gift, although he insisted it wasn't necessary.

We went for dinner at a fleishig restaurant, since I'm an unapologetic carnivore. I don't eat a lot of meat, but when I was a vegetarian for what I thought were health reasons -- both of my maternal grandparents had heart problems -- I became severely anemic. My doctor said I could come in every month for iron injections or I could eat meat every once in a while. So I do. Less painful.

LL was amused by my carnivorous admission. "Most women don't say they love meat," he noted, "even if they're not vegetarians."

He also laughed at all of my jokes, sometimes uproariously. But I still can't get a read on him. He's quite guarded. So I honestly don't know if he'll ask me out again.

And I honestly don't know if that's a bad thing. I mean, he does seem kind, generous, interesting. He started a PhD in history but got sick of academic politics and now seems to have a successful career in insurance, managing about 170 people (80 full-time, 90 contract). I was impressed; I don't ever want to have to manage anybody, although I suppose I'll have to at some point.

But in person, he's not as attractive as his picture -- he looks much older. He has a weird blinking thing, although it's not disfiguring. And like I said, he seems distant. I don't know how long he was married or why he got divorced -- that's not really first date conversation. He said some mildly negative things about his ex-wife, though, that made me a little concerned.

For example: LL apparently loathes and detests mice. When he saw one in their apartment, he immediately acquired a cat. His ex didn't like the cat -- it shed and knocked things over.

"So I made the wrong decision at the time," said LL. "She said, 'It's me or the cat,' and I chose her." Ouch.

If he asks me out again, I'll definitely go. If he doesn't, I won't be devastated.

I also was contacted by a man who identifies as "Yeshivish Black Hat." Which is pretty far away from how I see myself. He's checked out my profile a few times, and finally wrote after I uploaded pictures of myself from New Year's Eve (which have also been a big hit on Facebook among friends and admirers):

just saying hello

So I said "hello" back.

have we ever chatted ? i recognise u from somewhere

YBH responded. I hear this a lot. I even heard it at the Nefesh conference -- a woman I'd never met was convinced she'd met me at a previous conference. Since this was my first conference, I thought that was unlikely.

I don't think so. I tend to look like someone everyone knows. I was at a conference today, and someone else asked me where we'd met, and we hadn't ;)

YBH demonstrated a very slight flair for witty retorts:

oh so ur that famous looking girl

I agreed.

i like dating famous looking girls

was his next sally. Why would a guy wearing a black hat in his profile picture want to date me? More importantly, why would I want to date him?

I'm surprised that I'm your type.

YBH took mild offense.

well first off why not u dont even know me i dont know u either

Keep it light....

true, but my picture doesn't shout "Bais Yaakov" ;)

Seriously -- I'm a dedicated professional, and I'm not interested in living in Lakewood. I love NYC.

Oh yeah -- I forgot to mention YBH lives in Lakewood, not exactly a bastion of modern orthodoxy. Nothing wrong with Lakewood, but it's just not me.

i could live anywhere and im not looking for the bais y type

This is why we correspond with people -- to see if there's potential. And keeping an open mind about people opens more possibilities. So I'll keep an open mind. Let's see if we have anything in common.

Okay... What kind of music do you like?

This is a very clever question designed to determine whether YBH engages in the surrounding culture or has immersed himself in a frum-only world. If he says "Avrohom Fried" or "Miami Boys Choir" I can tell we're got very different interests in music, at the very least.

well im basically not a music fanatic i hapen to like madonna nelly f........

Hm. Not the answer I was expecting. But a pretty good one. We don't share musical tastes, but at least he's not afraid of popular culture.

that would explain why you like this pic of me ;)

what kind of books do u like?

It's a very sexy picture. Not entirely immodest, but it wouldn't get posted on OnlySimchas.

one sec? what r u saying?

Not too quick on the uptake, or maybe I wasn't clear.

It's a joke. The gemara says red is an inherently immodest color. Madonna and Nelly aren't known for their tremendous tzanua. I suppose neither am I. I don't wear pants, but I do wear close-fitting and rather low-cut clothes.

Letting YBH know upfront who and what I am.

i like u allready

Interesting.

but do you respect me? and could you introduce me to your mother?

Since I don't want to waste my time with another guy who just wants to spend time with a sexy chick and not make an honest woman out of her.

sure what the hell why not u dont even know me talk to me on the phone im a regular guy very worldly normal

It's just hard for me to see guys in black hats as "worldly" and "normal." I'm not even entirely sure why they wear the hats. But anytime anyone wears a uniform voluntarily -- black suit, white shirt, no tie, black hat -- I get a little nervous. I don't get it. Maybe it's provincial or ignorant of me, but I don't see why a man has to dress like every other man in his community. Or keep cholov yisroel. Or not have a TV or go to movies.

Do you go to movies?

"Sure," he responded. So I gave him my phone number and we talked on the phone. Not for long -- it was late and I was tired after the conference. I'm not sure if there's anything there, but it's worth having coffee. If he asks me -- when I told him it was late and I needed to go, he asked when he should call again.

"Call when you want to," I said lightly.

"I don't want to be stalking you," he said.

"I have caller ID," I quipped. "If I'm not in the mood to talk, I'll screen." He laughed. We'll see.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, January 04, 2009

My first Nefesh conference

Here's a brief summary of the Nefesh conference I attended:

Am I the only woman not wearing a sheitel in this room? Nefesh members run to the more observant end of the orthodox Jewish spectrum. I felt very single. Of course, my hair still looks amazing from the Brazilian keratin treatment and blowout, but I almost felt naked compared to all the women covering their hair.

I have to say, though, that a lot of the very "black-hat" types were very sensitive and cool. Not at all insular or narrow-minded. One guy in chassidish garb and payos made a joke about hiring divorce lawyers that included the phrase, "You pays your money and you takes your chances." I was mildly shocked -- and impressed.

There were a ton of social workers there, which made me happy, along with some very cool psychiatrists and even some decent psychologists. I saw a person I recognized from The Bad Place (a fellow student, not one of the resident torturers) and avoided him. I don't know if he recognized me.

You're HOW old? During lunch one of the other participants, Anita, asked me where I was from. Turns out she knows people in my hometown, including a girl I went to high school with, Aliza, who's now married and living in Israel with three sons.

"You were the same year as Aliza?" asked Anita. "But she's 39!"

"So am I," I said. Ouch.

It's not "me," it's "she." I attended a psychopharmacology session in the afternoon. One of the presenters talked about Wellbutrin "allegedly" increasing seizure risk. I raised my hand and contributed that fasting can also lower the seizure threshold. She disagreed. I got her business card and might write her a little note about my experience fasting on Wellbutrin.

Another psychopharmacologist gave a talk on insomnia and sleep aids. After he finished, I approached him, intent on asking about my terminal insomnia. But I didn't want to disclose anything personal. I'm very new to the organization, and I don't want to call attention to myself in a bad way.

"I have a client," I said, "with seasonal affective disorder. She's using a light box, and it's helping her mood tremendously, but it seems to have reactivated her terminal insomnia. She's only getting about 3 hours of sleep a night."

It was so easy, I almost felt guilty lying to him. He suggested I have "my client" discuss a sleep aid with her psychiatrist, just for the winter months when she's using the light box. "She" will do that this Wednesday when "she" sees Dr. R.

The Rov doesn't think I should get married. I had the choice of attending a session for new professionals starting their careers or "Ask the Rov." I'd been doing a lot of networking and had made a lot of great contacts. So I was curious to see what the Rov would say.

The Rov was a gentle, white-bearded man with a sweet smile and a fantastic sense of humor. Very charismatic and caring. He elucidated a number of issues in what I thought was a very thoughtful and sophisticated way, balancing halacha with secular professional ethics and responsibility.

Then he said that while a clinician who is treating a patient for mental health issues can't be expected to discuss the client's mental health if asked for shidduch purposes, since that would be unethical, as a rov he would advise a person not to marry someone being treated for a mental illness, since the risk is too great that the person would have another breakdown. I felt kicked in the chest.

After his speech I went up to him and said plaintively, "So people with mental illnesses shouldn't get married?"

"Chas v'shalom!" he said. "But I wouldn't advise someone without a mental illness to marry someone who has one."

"Damaged goods for damaged goods?" I asked. Tears in my eyes.

"Listen, should a person who survives cancer get married?" he asked. "Of course! But what would you advise someone who's considering marrying a cancer survivor? That's too great a risk."

His marital calculus didn't seem to leave us damaged goods with many options. I'd actually considered going to this Rov for paskining on another shaila. Now I know I won't.

A Nefesh friend of mine who also attended the conference, and who's attained substantial psychiatric as well as halachic knowledge, reframed what the Rov was saying. "You're stabilized on medication," he said. "You have a responsible job, you live on your own. I wouldn't put you in the same category as a person who's suffered acute psychosis, can't work, and has to live with their family. That person might not be able to get married and be a parent, but I don't see why you couldn't. You'd have to disclose your condition to the person you wanted to marry -- "

"Of course I'd disclose it!" I interjected indignantly. "I'd bring him to meet Dr. R."
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, January 03, 2009

My new job: Baby handkerchief

"Gesundheit!" I said, and wiped a wad of baby snot off my velvet-clad shoulder. I stopped by Shuli & Co. this morning, where Baruch needed to be put down for a nap. Usually I'm very good at doing that. Unfortunately, since he has a cold, he wasn't in the mood to sleep. Amazing how even when he's sick he's such a good baby, though. He smiled when I came in and kept looking at me even though his father was trying to feed him. I love that baby.

Then I went to shul and met up with my latest Facebook friend, Zoya. She's a gorgeous, sweet person whose life is possibly worse than mine. She was married to a crazy, abusive Persian guy for 11 years and had 2 kids. In November, her house burned down and she's been living in a hotel. Seriously. I know I have a serious mental illness and was hit by a car, but after listening to her, I don't feel so sorry for myself. Which is good, because self-pity never got anyone anywhere.

Zoya took me along to a lunch where we were the youngest in the room -- a nice change of pace. I actually knew the hostess, Leah, whom I hadn't seen in years. She's a very sweet, ethereal person who also has a very difficult life and a remarkably positive attitude.

Leah was making the meal in honor of her mother's yahrzeit. Apparently her mother was good at appreciating every person's unique talents and abilities and making them feel special. So Leah asked us all to introduce ourselves and say what we do to make the world a better place.

I thought about talking about work, but they pay me to do that. So I said, "I'm an aunt by blood and honor to many children, and I try to help their parents as much as I can -- whatever they need. Rock a baby to sleep, give a bottle, read a book, play dolls, take someone to the potty.... When I visit my siblings or friends, they're often tired because their kids are up half the night. I'm like fresh horses -- I get all my sleep. So I'm able to help out a little. It takes a village and an aunt to raise a child. Even though I don't have kids of my own, Aunt Ayelet is an important person to these children, and I take a lot of pride in that."

I'm really not in the mood to write about dating stuff right now. There's a lot going on, none of it really good, and I'm feeling depressed about it. So it's good for me to spend time with kids who need and love me, and with people whose positive attitude is in direct contradiction to the depressing reality of their lives.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year's Eh

The best thing about Sam's party wasn't the other guests (too old, except for the host, who was too indifferent), the food (decent but not spectacular), the ball drop at midnight (no kiss for me this year), or even what I wore -- although everyone said I looked gorgeous, with my sleek straight hair (did a 5-hour Brazilian keratin treatment earlier in the day), slinky scarlet dress, lovely pearl necklace and bracelet I bought myself for Chanuka, glittery stockings, pearl-and-gold anklet, and sexy Mary Jane stilettos.

When I bought the necklace and bracelet, I was given a free pair of pearl stud earrings. I already have two pairs of pearl stud earrings, one the exact size of the new ones. What do do with the new ones? Malka doesn't want to get her ears pierced, and Shira's too young. Alona and Shuli already have pearls.

So I gave them to my good friend Aviva, of course. Her birthday is December 31, and we keep saying we're going to work on building up her jewelry wardrobe. A few years ago I gave her a pair of beautiful blue topaz earrings that she adores. So I was able to enjoy the selfish joy of giving and start 2009 with an act of kindness. She loved them.

Today I should be revising my journal article, but I'm going to watch ET and some of his friends jump into the ocean instead.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"