Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Not really fasting

I should be in synagogue listening to Eichah, but I'm home instead. I'm going to try to eat less over the next 25 hours, but I can't fast.

Since I'm home, I might as well give you a little SOS update: He hasn't called this week, but today he emailed me:


Just wanted to ensure you didn't think I've forgotten about you!

It's been an unusually busy week at work (I was going to call yesterday evening, but remembered you work until 8 pm Tuesdays, and I have a chevruta on Tuesdays at 8:45 pm)... I hope you have an easy fast & I'll be in touch before Shabbos!

Regards, SOS

Well, that's nice of him. Bonus points for remembering I work late on Tuesday. I guess he'll try to call Friday afternoon.

No worries -- I understand busy ;) Tzum kal, and I'll talk to you later.

I was supposed to daven today for three people undergoing surgery. I diligently wrote down their Hebrew names and mothers' names, which I then left at home. So while they were either in surgery or the recovery room, I was davening for them without their names ("my friend Minka, who's having hand surgery"; "my Facebook friend Stacy's mother, who's having cancer surgery"; you get the idea). Hopefully the message got through.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The official bed & breakfast of ayelet-helpfordepression

I've gotten several emails asking me about the fantastic kosher B&B I stayed at. It's Harris's Happy Hunter Hideaway, and I recommend it unreservedly. You can tell him Ayelet sent you, but that won't really get you anything. Or me. But it's a terrific getaway, and you can't beat the value and service.

In dating news: I got a phone call last Wednesday at 10:15 p.m. from SOS, the 32-year-old living in Cleveland. I was actually busy at the time helping RSX set up his new website -- he's a freshly minted acupuncturist/herbalist/qigong masseur; I used to write professionally for websites, and of course I'm good with templates after having this blog for so long.

Anyway, I told RSX I couldn't talk because I was busy helping a friend with his website. SOS said, "Do you have my number on Caller ID now? Want to call me back at a better time?"

"You want me to call you?" I asked. "Okay... sure. No problem."

So I called back last Thursday and left a voicemail. And left it at that. Didn't hear from him Friday, Saturday night, all day Sunday and most of Monday. I wondered if I had blown it with him. He finally sent an email yesterday evening:

Ayelet, please forgive the delayed reply to your voice-mail. I was out-of-town, from Friday until today, for my birthday weekend...

I'll be in touch again, by phone, this week. Have a good night & I look forward to chatting with you. Regards, SOS

I guess he'll be calling. I can't say the same about the Other Survivor, in Montreal. He called me the Thursday night before I went to Harris's Happy Hunter Hideaway, and I was stressed out. Trying to book a flight to Seattle for my cruise, trying to pack, distracted and cranky. I tried not to be rude, but I did say it wasn't a good time.

"When would be a good time?" he asked. "I think you were busy the last time I called, too."

"Well..." I hedged. The last time he called was a Tuesday night, after I'd just gotten home from a long day at work, and I was tired and didn't feel like talking. He'd said he'd call on Wednesday, when I'm less exhausted, but instead he called on Thursday, almost as long and tiring a day as Tuesday.

"I don't know," I said, hardly thinking straight. "My schedule's kind of chaotic sometimes."

I guess I could have emailed him to set up a good time for him to call me again (so could he). But I haven't heard from him, and I haven't really thought about him. I kind of want to set Shevy up with him, but she's very wary of blind dates.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, July 27, 2009

Too blunt?

I used to state in my Frumster profile that I am not chassidish and not looking to become chassidish. Then I thought that sounded too negative, and was redundant since I list myself as "modern orthodox - liberal," so I took it out. I also used to include an age limit -- within 7 years of my age -- but removed that point as well. So I got an email yesterday from a chassidish 53-year-old:

I'm late for work, but was wondering your Kohaine status.

Everything about that message irritated me.

First off, you're 14 years older than I am and chassidish. In what universe do I find you remotely appealing?

Second, who cares if you're late for work? Looking at my profile is making you late for work? That's not my fault! Look at profiles of women your own age!

Finally, that is a very personal and intrusive question. Asking it in a rush like that is just tacky.

I realize that I'm all hormonal and cranky, having just gotten my period (and was also annoyed that yesterday's thunderstorm destroyed my alarm clock, which I had left on the windowsill) but I wrote back bluntly:

You're too old for me.

Was that too blunt?

Today my cool Israeli sunglasses lost a screw. I need to buy a new alarm clock. I still can't find pants that fit so I can go hiking in Alaska. It is shaping up to be a very annoying week. Given that it's the Nine Days, I should be thinking more about the destruction of the Temple and sinat chinam, but right now I'm too irritated by my life.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Too much of a birthday present

"I want to get you a birthday present," said ET, right before he left on his three-week tour of London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Italy (Rome, Florence, Pisa, and a few places I can't remember).

"Okay," I said, wondering what he had in mind.

"I was thinking a nice piece of jewelry," he continued.


I love jewelry; don't get me wrong. But I've believed for a long time that I don't need a man to buy it for me. Sometimes my aunt gets me nice pieces -- she gave me a gorgeous ruby ring after I got my MSW. Usually I buy it for myself. But a male friend who doesn't want to date me, giving me jewelry?

"We can go to a store together to pick it out," he said. "I want to spend about $150."

That is a lot more than I usually spend on a piece of jewelry. And going together to the store to pick it out... felt too much like something I should be doing with a boyfriend, rather than an allegedly platonic friend 10 years my junior.

I didn't tell ET his suggestion made me feel weird. Instead, I focused on the fact that he's going to Italy, land of beautiful craftsmanship in every material. "You can get me a gold ankle bracelet," I said. "I don't have any."

"How will I know what you like?" he asked, rather reasonably. "I don't think I'm the kind of guy who knows what's nice."

"I'll send you some links," I told him. "Are you going to the Tower of London while you're there?"

"Sure," he said.

"Can you get me a souvenir?" I asked. I have a fairly pronounced morbid streak; I've watched a dozen or more film and TV portrayals of Anne Boleyn going to her execution. We looked up the Tower of London bookstore website, and I found two lavishly illustrated books on torture. "Either one would be great," I said.

"So a book and the ankle bracelet," he said. "I'll see what I can do."

I sent him a bunch of links showing gold anklets I thought were pretty. Yesterday ET sent me an email:

I saw your comment on one of the Facebook pictures, but because the internet cafe is so expensive, I won't be commenting until I get back. I was able to get both Tower of London books- unsure if I can find the other item you wanted, but hopefully. :-)

Oh boy. No idea which Facebook picture he means -- actually, probably one from RSX's second-degree black belt demonstration, on which I commented:

ET was wondering if you guys would be good in a real fight. He kept saying, "I'm a purple belt in Tae Kwon Do -- I could kick his ass!" Referring to you. I told him that Tae Kwon Do is Korean for "sissy kicking game."

There is no way ET could kick RSX's ass, of course. ET barely outweighs me. RSX commented:

well the original masters of Tae Kwon Do from Korea were deadly and no ET has no chance against me, although if he is wishing to see the devastating results let him dare enter my realm of fighting

I assume words will be exchanged when ET is back from Europe. (Being the stickler for detail that ET is, he will probably want to clarify that I actually didn't say anything to him about Tae Kwon Do, which is true; I thought up the witticism after ET embarked and decided to use it to flirt a little with RSX.)

But in the meantime, ET's already bought me more than he said he would. I should tell him to stop, right? Because we're not dating. Right? (Did I mention that I'm the only person he's shopping for in Europe?)

Shavua tov! The books are fine, you don't have to get me anything else :)

It hurt a little to send that, largely because I don't have a gold ankle bracelet. I have one that's gold with pearls, but not one that's just gold. After the Nine Days I should probably buy myself one.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

How should I respond?

An acquaintance from college, Mottel, contacted me recently on Facebook. I didn't recognize him -- in fact, I didn't even remember him. I believe he was a grad student when I was a freshman, and when I knew him, he wasn't wearing a fedora and a beard. In other words, he's gone Lubavitch. He wasn't particularly religious when I first met him, so I don't feel so bad for not recognizing him.

Anyway, he and his wife apparently love to make shidduchim, Gd bless them, and after asking me a few questions about myself, he sent me the names of some guys he thought might suit.

Two of them looked a lot like him. There is no tactful way to say this, so here goes: I'm not attracted to the Lubavitch look or lifestyle. I admire and respect -- even love -- several of its practitioners, but it is just too machmir and chassidic a lifestyle for me. I watch TV, I go to movies, I don't learn Tanya, and I cannot deal with straggly beards. I don't even really like trimmed beards, although I can more or less cope. But untrimmed beards just really turn me off.

I felt pretty bad telling him that I found his friends -- and by extention, him -- unattractive. (Yeah, I know, Mr. Fox is hot, but to be honest he's the only Lubavitch guy I've ever thought was hot, and he is hotttt. Any woman with a pulse would think so.) Fortunately, Mottel wasn't offended.

"So that leaves Steve, or Shalom (SOS)," said Mottel. "He lives in Cleveland. He's either 32 or 39, I can't remember which." Physicists. They're more comfortable with calculus than arithmetic.

"If he's 39, that's great," I said, "but I doubt he'd be interested in me if he's 32." I sent Mottel the essentials of my new and improved Frumster profile, and he forwarded it to SOS. SOS wrote back:

Mottel -- Thanks, again, for thinking of me! I'll be 32 y.o. this coming Friday, IY''H, and will date up to 40 y.o. -- and I have a strong preference for women who don't already have children... regards, SOS

Look at that. Ayelet qualifies! I noticed that SOS looked at my profile on Frumster as well, so I looked at his:

Grew up in: New York City
Consider relocation? Maybe
Wishing to make aliyah to Israel? No
Jewish Education: yeshiva/seminary
Secular Education: Masters
Languages Spoken: English
Political Beliefs: middle of the road
Occupation: Marketing Analyst
Hobbies and Interests: Spending time with friends. Reading (from "Touched by a Story" to Tom Clancy). Cultural activities (symphony concerts, museums). The outdoors. Keeping in touch with family (my parents & relatives live outside Cleveland). Exercise.

What Modern Orthodox Machmir means to me: Living a committed Frum life, while maintaining a career and enjoying numerous secular activities.

This is how I describe myself: I've lived in Cleveland for over eight years, and am thankful to be part of such a vibrant, supportive, and growing Jewish community.

I'm a Marketing Analyst with a large consumer-products corporation. While I enjoy my job, and take my career seriously (along with the responsibility of supporting a family), I don't allow it to dominate my life... I learn with a chevrusa several nights per week, which I value greatly. At the same time, I enjoy many secular activities -- strolling through a Metropark, attending an Indians baseball game, going to Starbucks with friends, or simply relaxing at home with a good book... Although my schedule's often tight, I try to make time for chesed -- whether it's helping a friend with his resume or visiting someone who's ill... Please drop me a line if you'd like to learn more!

This is what I am looking for in a mate: I'd like to meet someone who is stable, in Yiddishkeit as well as emotionally. She must be a ba'alas mi'ddos, and should have a good sense of humor, but know how to be serious when necessary. She should have various interests & hobbies. We might share some, but others can (and should) be independent of my own... I believe in the cliche that a person's friends are indicative of who they are, so she should spend free-time with sincere, "normal" people (involvement in chesed is a definite 'plus')... She should be committed to, but preferably not obsessed with, her profession... And she should believe that life is the most precious gift of all -- especially when it's spent with the right person! My instinct says I might be asking for too much here. Perhaps you're the one to prove my instinct wrong?

In a word? Wow. I told Mottel to give SOS my email and phone number, and within two hours I had an email from SOS:

Ayelet, how's it going? I'll keep this short until I'm completely sure I have the correct address... anyway, Mottel speaks quite highly of you and -- if you don't let it get to your head (hee hee) -- I'll admit that I found your Frumster profile to be both thoughtful, funny and unique. hope to hear from you soon... have a good evening!

Double wow. Funny, articulate, and likes my profile. Excellent start! I wrote back:

Hey SOS, nice to hear from you! Mottel spoke highly of you as well, and I must say I am impressed with a man who's comfortable dating older women ;) I liked your profile too, and I don't think you're asking too much. You sound very genuine and giving.

Not too eager, not too aloof. He responded (at 11:55 a.m.):


Good morning! I hope your day is going well so far... I'll admit to being "comfortable dating older women", so long as you don't regard me as the next Dustin Hoffman (ever see "The Graduate"?) ;-)
Seriously, I appreciate the kind words in your e-mail... Mottel sent me your phone #, so I'll give you a call later this week.

regards, SOS

PS: You may be the first person I've spoken with that wears only skirts, but is still deciding whether to cover her hair. That's an interesting "hashgafic" combination! :-)

This is what I wrote and thought about sending:

Hey SOS,

I work 12-8 on Tuesday, so my day has been fine so far but is still quite young.

I loved "The Graduate," but I don't see myself quite as Mrs. Robinson. I must say she has great legs. (In real life Anne Bancroft is only 6 years older than Dustin Hoffman, so the comparison is somewhat apt.) But I do find myself dating more younger than older men. Not sure why. I do look pretty young for my age -- it's amazing what getting your beauty sleep and a good skincare regimen can accomplish -- and I have a lot of energy (again the sleep factor).

Part of the reason I only wear skirts is that it is very difficult for me to find pants that fit. I am very hourglass-shaped, so pants that fit my hips are too loose on my waist, and it's tedious to get everything tailored. But I also think it's more feminine. In terms of covering my hair, I put "unsure" because I really don't care. If it were important to my husband, I'd cover it fully and not have a problem with that. If he didn't care, I'd probably just wear hats to shul. To me it's an external thing that I'm willing to compromise on because it's nonessential.

Talk to you later, Ayelet

Then I decided to seek your input, dear readers. I probably shouldn't put in that last paragraph about not being able to find pants that fit, right? Or address the covering hair issue? According to The Rules, I probably shouldn't respond at all, and just wait for him to call me.

Last week I had a strange dream that I was trying to get on the subway to go home, and instead ended up going to Cleveland. Coincidence?
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, July 20, 2009

Gloating just a lil bit

We have a new group at my program -- "addiction & wellness." Since it's new, it was only being offered twice a week, at relatively early times. That means that clients who couldn't attend on those days at those times could not attend the group. A problem, since it's mandatory.

Last week at case conference, I opined that this was a problem. "We need another A&W group," I said. "On Monday evening at 6:30." Logistically that would the best time. The big group room is available, and clients who can't come on either of the other two days could probably come on Monday at a later time.

"Easy there, tiger," said my boss. "I have to consider a lot of factors, like scheduling."

Today he sent out an email announcing that the newest counselor -- the one who thinks I have such great energy -- will be facilitating another section of A&W group on Monday at 6:30.

I went to apologize to her -- after all, it's my fault she now has to talk about STDs and condoms with a group of (mainly) male recovering substance abusers. But I'm gloating.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The life of the bed & breakfast

The gay go-go dancing was postponed because Minka's sister, Dvori, wasn't feeling well on Thursday. But they had made plans to go to a kosher bed & breakfast in the Catskills for Shabbos with their friend Shevy, and invited me to join them.

It was a really fun weekend. Shevy is down-to-earth, almost exactly my age, and has almost as cynical a view of dating and matchmakers as I do. I felt comfortable talking to her, which is good because we were sharing a room.

The other guests were a young married couple, an older married couple, and a very shy single guy who was there to leyn. The B&B host belongs to my shul in the city, but now spends most of his weekends in the country. It was like visiting a really good host; we ate family-style, good plain Jewish food like pot roast and cholent.

For some reason I reacted badly to the food; I'll spare you the details, but I spent a lot of time in the bathroom, and even today I'm nauseated. The other guests seem fine, so I'm hoping the gastric discomfort isn't internalized anxiety.

I was a little nervous about spending Shabbat with a bunch of people I didn't know well at a time when I fear I'm becoming a little manic. I've had mortifying experiences where my behavior escalated from funny to beyond inappropriate, and I felt unable to rein myself in.

But apparently I was the life of the Shabbos. I kept everyone in stitches, telling them about being curbsided by Adam Hashakran, Ziva Kramer's bait-and-switch, going to the ER on Yom Kippur (I told them I fainted, not that I had a seizure), my 18-minute date with HealthNut, and several other misadventures.

As I was saying goodbye to the older married woman, she grasped my hand and said, "Thank you."

"You're welcome," I said, bewildered. "For what?"

"You made Shabbos so much fun," she said. "You have such a sunny personality."

I'm not used to thinking of myself as "sunny." I'm usually morose, occasionally manic. Have I finally found a balance?
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, July 16, 2009

"The less you say, the better."

Dr. R was very proud of me for being promoted and thinks I'll do a great job, as long as I don't talk too much.

I told him I was worried that I might be hypomanic again, that I feel like I want my clients to stop talking so I can get a word in, that I'm afraid I'll spin out of control and ruin everything with my coworkers and supervisors. How I'm having trouble concentrating on developing a group outline and other programmatic matters I should be focusing on, and I often feel like singing and dancing in the hallway.

"At this stage," Dr. R said, "The less you say, the better.

"You do not have to prove yourself," he continued. "They promoted you, so they know you are qualified. So do your job, but say as little as possible. What is good is that you are aware there might be a problem, so you can monitor your behavior."

He's right. And I tried to live by those words. Which is surprisingly difficult. I have to say my anger management clients made it easy in group tonight, though, because they're a very chatty bunch. I didn't have to say too much.

But after group, one of the new counselors came to my office to borrow my computer, and we started chatting about how tough it is to learn all of the agency policies and procedures.

"I learned everything through trial and error, mostly error," I said. "It gets better. I promise."

Then she noticed the acupuncture certificate on my wall. So I started talking to her about the training, and the five points that are targeted, and what the protocol accomplishes.

"If you ever have 20 minutes and you're stressed out, just let me know," I said. She pulled her hair away from her ear and said, "How about now?" jokingly. We laughed.

Why did I have to go on to tell her that it is my diabolical plan to introduce acupuncture to the program, and then offer to intercede with the accountant/techie if she ever has a problem with him, because he likes me more than he likes the other counselors? (Which happens to be true -- he answers my questions much faster and much more nicely than questions from the other counselors -- but she doesn't need to know that.) It's so easy to elaborate and digress and become grandiose when you're manic.

"You have such great energy, Ayelet!" she said.

I hope that's all she thinks it is. Because she's got a lot of experience working with people who have bipolar disorder. I don't want her to blow my cover.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dating update

Well, the "psychospiritual chemistry" (PC) guy who's my age wrote back:

thank you lets talk

I responded

okay, when?

PC read but didn't answer. As the Brits say, whatevs. I won't lose sleep waiting for him to name a time.

Also wrote to another guy who's 46. Kind of on the upper end of my dating comfort zone. From his profile:

This is how I describe myself: I think I can say it in only two words "REAL MAN". A real man is someone who is strong when he has to be, always kind and considerate and most of all admits when he's wrong and stands strong when he is right.

This is what I am looking for in a mate: A woman who is kind with a good heart, but tough when she has to be, wise and pretty inside and outside.

Real Man (RM) sounds a bit of all right, and I sound like the woman he's looking for. I wrote to him to say so, and asked to see his password-protected photo. Which he allowed me to do, with the caveat that he looks better in person. So do I -- I'm not at all photogenic -- but his photos weren't bad. We exchanged emails explaining what we do for fun. Then he wrote:

do you eat only in kosher places or do you eat some things in an unkosher place too?

What are guys like RM doing on a website called "Frumster"?

Ayelet: only kosher
RM: ok
A: so... ? ;)
RM: phone?

I gave him my number.

RM: when is the best time to call?
A: between 9 and 11 p.m.
RM: I will try, if I'm not busy at that time. Have a great day.

How often are you busy between 9 and 11? Every night? Whatevs.

The Other Survivor called last night, but I'd just gotten home and was hungry and exhausted. He said he'd call back tonight. On the plus side, relapse prevention group actually went really well, despite my sleep deficit and incipient hypomania. I was feeling tired and out of sorts by the end of the day, worried I wouldn't be able to wrangle the group members, but it went fine.

Tonight I'm doing acupuncture on my assistant clinical director and a friend from grad school, but I should be home in time to talk to OS. Tomorrow morning I see Dr. R. Tomorrow night I'm taking some friends who really need to have fun to a gay go-go bar. Don't worry -- I know it's the three weeks, but this is therapy.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Someone I won't even bother contacting

I rejoined Frumster. I have about a month before the Alaska cruise, and I might as well try to make the most of it.

There were a few messages to read and maybe respond to, including a missed IM from a 34-year-old guy, who basically just said "hello." I responded in kind. (I ignored the icebreaker from the 51-year-old divorced guy with an associates degree who works as a "courier.")

And there was this fellow, who's my age:

This is how I describe myself: In life I try to remember that all my actions will eventually be judged. I try to live my life to that mantra, That is how I was raised, In essence that is what being frum Is all about. btw I have two kids

This is what I am looking for in a mate: Being frum is what is on the inside it is not about a shaitel or the skirt a women puts on, its in her heart. A true giving women that gives charity for the sake of charity is what defines a real women of valor. Outer Beauty fades inner beauty lasts forever, chemistry is still important

He sounds interesting. Not the best online writer, but he's a professional. So I wrote him:

Subject: chemistry is 15% physical and 85% psychospiritual

A rough estimate ;) I like what you said about living while remembering that all your actions will be judged, and giving for the sake of giving. I'm sure you will not be found wanting.

We'll see how he responds. But I am not writing to this guy:

This is how I describe myself: One time I made dinner for my young nephews. When I served it to them, they took a bite and told me that it was the best they ever had. I tasted it and it was awful. My nephews (ages 5 & 7), who have no problem speaking their mind, loved me so much that they actually ate the food and lied to me about how good it was. I realized then how much I love those little guys and that its about time I started a family of my own. I love children and I am very close to my family. However, first things first, I am must find the right woman. I am smart, accomplished, confident and I am looking to settle down with a best friend, a lover, a better half.

As far as looks go, I've been described by as very cute or very handsome. Though in the religious community my age and marital status stick out like a red flag and, as I do not want to miss out on meeting the right person, I feel its important for you to know that I've been in long term (and normal) relationships before returning to the religious fold. So please don't place me in the "religious guy who is not married because he must have some horrible hidden defect I don't know about" category.

What could be wrong with him? Keep reading...

This is what I am looking for in a mate: Please be naturally slim as I have long ago accepted the fact that I would always go half-hungry and exercise like a maniac just to keep fit. As such, I would like to give my kids a fighting chance when it comes to their DNA (i.e. Mom's side)

Please be smart and accomplished- it does not matter what field it is or whether you have the right education or not- just as long as its something that proves your dedication and ability to follow through with your goals.

If you have children, even better, as I want a big family and judging by my age it will not be likely. Under the right circumstances I would be willing to adopt them as my own and no matter what happens, I will, with open arms, assume both moral and legal responsibility for them as my children for the rest of my life.

I'm smart and accomplished, but definitely not "naturally slim." Scratch him off the list. He's a year younger than I am, anyway, and at 39, a year younger might as well be a decade younger.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Two people who REALLY didn't want me there

Yesterday I went with Shalva to a lecture about miracles. The topic wasn't so controversial, but my presence was.

The lecture was given by Erica's husband -- I've been dropped from her enriching play volunteer email list, but she still sends me event invitations. And it was held at the apartment of an ex-friend of mine, Judas. (Apologies to anyone who's offended by a moniker plucked from the New Testament, but I couldn't think of an Old Testament name harsh enough to characterize him.)

Judas isn't really an ex-boyfriend, although I did go out with him twice more than 10 years ago. After we briefly dated, he became one of my closest friends. He visited me in the hospital after my sinus surgery. He showed me how to use the Internet. We spent a lot of time together, just hanging out and talking. Judas was one of the few people I told about my depression diagnosis, and he was very supportive and understanding. Then hypomania hit, and he dropped me flat.

I can't say I really blame Judas. He organized a shabbaton weekend, capped off with a Sunday afternoon of canoeing, and my behavior throughout was bizarre and extreme. When you're manic your brain isn't very good at creating and storing memories -- it's malfunctioning in a number of ways. So it's probably a mercy for me that I can't remember everything I did and said, although I know at one point I was prancing around in a bikini.

This was shortly after my first major depressive episode, during which my weight dropped to 99 pounds; I looked good, and I flaunted it. Later that summer my cousin got married in LA, and my mother and I stayed at a hotel with a hot tub. I ran around the hotel, to and from the hot tub, in that bikini. I also got up and sang "I can't help falling in love with you" at the wedding, although, to be fair, the band asked me to. (They were going from table to table singing with guests, and when I suggested they do that song, they asked, "Can you sing?" I said yes, and they took me up on stage and let me perform. Jerusha wanted to crawl under the table.)

Anyway, I'm sure Judas can remember what else I did during that weekend; I'm just as sure he was mortified I was acting so strangely in front of his other friends. But Judas never asked me, "Ayelet, what the hell is wrong with you? Why are you acting like this? Are you crazy? What's the matter?" He just started ignoring me. After a few attempts at communication, I started ignoring him back.

Judas has a great apartment, with a terrace and garden. So friends of mine like hosting parties there, and to give him credit, he's generous enough to let them. Thus, I've been at his apartment several times over the past few weeks -- a friend's going-away party (she's moving back to California after a year in NYC), a potluck lunch, or an afternoon lecture on miracles.

To give Judas credit, he's never openly rude to me. He won't speak to me directly, but he doesn't pretend I'm not there. Neither did Erica or her husband. But I wondered if the three of them would have been happier had I not shown up.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Friday, July 10, 2009

Of course, I *could* be manic, not just content with my lot in life

My knees hurt in a different way from how they usually hurt, because of the fall I took yesterday. I don't care; I'm lounging around the house watching fun movie musicals like "Chicago" and "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes." And shopping for the vacation I'm taking this summer -- a cruise to Alaska.

So far, I have bought two pairs of shoes I can hike in, because I didn't have any athletic shoes. When I exercise-walk I wear my FitFlops, but those won't get me up the side of a glacier. And I'll need to wear them on alternate days, because they'll probably get wet and will need to dry out.

I also bought three other pairs of shoes -- white, red, and brown -- because all of my old summer shoes are falling apart. Literally; I was walking from the reception area to my office last week, and my brown sandals flew apart into three pieces. The clients were greatly amused. I'm just lucky I didn't break an ankle.

I got a fleece jacket, lighter and warmer than sweatshirts. Three bathing suits, since the cruise ship has pools and hot tubs, and I only have one old suit and it's much too small. A digital camera, since my old one isn't compatible with my new-ish (2005) computer, and a 4 GB memory card. Industrial-strength bug spray and sunscreen, and after-bite gel. A pair of cropped jeans to hike in. And, because my apartment is so disorganized, I just had to buy a necklace holder, because my jewelry wardrobe was too crowded and my necklaces were getting all tangled.

The question has to arise: am I becoming manic? Because I'm happy, and I'm shopping. Some of the shopping happens when I wake up early and can't get back to sleep. In the winter, I'd consider it a symptom of terminal insomnia. But sleeplessness can also be a symptom of mania. I also think I must be giving off some kind of sexual vibe, because why else would so many 20somethings be falling at my feet? Hypersexuality -- another symptom of mania.

Friends who interact with me in real life have my official permission to watch me closely and tell me if they think I'm spinning out of control. I'm seeing Dr. R next Thursday, so we could always up my lithium dosage.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The glass is 3/4 full

I had a very full and busy day at work today. I was tired. I wanted to get home and relax -- especially since I woke up at 2 a.m. this morning and couldn't fall back asleep, so I've been operating at a sleep deficit.

When I got to the subway station, I could see the train sitting at the platform. I ran to board it before it left, weaving around the stupid people obstructing the stairway. Leaping through the doorway, I tripped and fell sprawling, half in and half out of the car. Knees bashed; elbows scraped; dignity in tatters. But I got up and took a bow, because my sense of humor was intact.

I'm going to have all kinds of interesting bruises tomorrow, but that's okay. We're off from work due to construction in the office building; I had hoped to go to a museum with Alona and her mother-in-law. Instead, I'll be icing my knees. And that's okay. Because right now, my life is good.

I'm supported, recognized, praised, and valued at work. My co-workers respect me. My clients like me. (Most of them. One of my anger management group participants said I was mean for expecting him to come to group on time. You can kind of see why he's in the group.)

Yesterday, after swing dancing, I came home and realized I had been a real therapist all day. Listening, reflecting, reframing, making people feel better. Seven years ago, I had no idea what to do with my life. Now I know who I am.

Not to mention the fact that there are at least three 20somethings in the tri-state area I could totally nail if I wanted to. (Of course there are innumerable 50somethings I could nail as well, but for some reason that's not quite as flattering.)

I don't know if I'm ever going to get married, or when, or to whom. Right now, I'm choosing not to focus on that. Right now, I'm happy. Right now, the glass is 3/4 full.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Swing and a miss

Last night I went to Midsummer Night's Swing with my friend Shalva. I also invited the sweet nephrologist (SN) who thinks I have great skin, and she thought she'd bring a guy friend (GF) I should meet. Shalva and I had a great time dancing to Chubby Checker -- I got my 10 minutes of exercise and then some -- but SN didn't show up.

When I got home my phone was ringing -- SN's GF. I just missed the call. Since I was tired, thirsty, and sweaty, I got undressed, had a drink, listened to my voicemail messages, updated my Facebook status -- Ayelet doesn't know which was cooler, watching Shalva learn to swing dance or watching the gay guy dance with the married guy -- and checked my email:

Hi Ayelet, I could not make it tonight -- but I am glad to see that you had a lot of fun. I gave G. your phone number. He went to Lincoln Center at about 9pm and texted me to ask if you were there. I said I'm sure and gave him your number. I hope he called you. His full name is GF. All the best, SN

Wow, news travels fast. Okay, so he called me. Good. I called him back and we started chatting.

"We should definitely go to this another night," he said.

"Too bad tomorrow's shiva-asar b'Tammuz, and Midsummer Night's Swing ends before the three weeks are over," I said.

"Before the what are over?" he asked.

I should have known that a guy who would call me right away could not possibly be orthodox.

Still, it was very sweet of SN to think of me.

Hey SN -- We've been chatting on the phone and I looked at his website. He seems like a very nice guy, but I don't think he's shomer shabbat. But thank you for giving him my phone #, he seems like a fun person to know :) Sorry you couldn't make it tonight, it was awesome!

She wrote back:

i just figured 2 Jewish people somewhat close in age and enjoy dancing both smart and attractive. okay, no worries will keep in mind.

Which is more than most people do for me:

It was very nice of u to think of me :) Also, I think he'll be fun to hang with -- so, much appreciated, Dr. Love ;)
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Oops! I did it again...

I scare men off so easily.

The 26-year-old I met at karaoke, Rochel Steiner's ex-husband (RSX), said he wanted to be Facebook friends with me, so I friended him on Tuesday. Tuesday night he IMed me:

RSX: hey Ayelet... u do acupuncture?
A: just 5 points on the ear, a protocol for substance abuse detox

That doesn't mean "nothing"; it stands for National Association for Detox Acupuncture.

A: yes, I'm a member of NADA
RSX: very nice... I am an acupuncturist, graduated Touro College Graduate School of Oriental Medicine in May

A: kewl, what did u do before that?
RSX: teach martial arts


A: u must be in really killer shape
RSX: wouldn't u like to know
A: well, I got something of a preview ;)
RSX: indeed u did

[I neglected to mention in the previous post that at about 11 p.m. Monday night, RSX asked me to take a little walk outside the karaoke bar. He pulled me into a doorway and kissed me. I let him because 1) he's extremely hot and 2) he's 13 years younger than I am.]

Now here's where Ayelet screws it up:

A: as did u, although my shape isn't nearly as impressive

Why did I have to point out that I'm not in perfect shape? His ex-wife is very slender and fit, true, but he wasn't making out with her in a doorway, or slow-dancing with her while someone else butchered "Don't Stop Believin'."

[It was while we were dancing that he mentioned rocking from foot to foot helps him build up power.

"Power?" I asked skeptically. "To do what?"

"To heal someone," he said. "To kill someone."

"Can you heal me?" I asked.

"What's the matter?" he asked.

"I have bad knees," I told him.

"Hop up on that bar stool," he said. Then he held his hands a few inches away from my knees and moved them up and down my shins. It felt... interesting. I definitely felt something, some kind of energy. Have to say that they're a little achy today, though.]

A: u saw my knees ;) and ur arms were around me... I wouldn't expect u to be able to sketch me, but u must have gotten some idea ;)

I just dig myself in deeper. He changes the subject.

RSX: how were ur knees feeling today btw?
A: pretty good, a little achy... could be the weather changes
RSX: yeah
A: on rainy days they tend to hurt more
RSX: makes sense

I'm losing him. What can I say to rekindle his interest?

A: I've been wondering what else you're good at ;)
RSX: hmmm i got many talents
A: apparently

Silence. According to his next status update, he went to practice karate. An hour later I sent a final pathetic message:

A: practice hard -- I look forward to learning more about your many talents

No response. Why do I always shoot myself in the foot like this?

But today RSX tagged me in one of the karaoke group photos someone else posted on Facebook. My face is one small spot in the crowd; I'm flattered that he bothered to look for me and tag me.

In other boy news, OS finally emailed me his photo. He's not totally hideous. I guess I'll keep talking to him.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

I coulda hit that

Last night I went to sing karaoke with ET and a bunch of 20somethings, since almost all of my age-appropriate friends are married with kids and can't stay out till midnight on a work night. (In addition to being child-free, I work 12-8 on Tuesday, so I have a little more leeway.)

I wasn't trying to attract attention. I certainly wasn't dressed for it; long sleeves, high-cut top, loose long skirt, no makeup. Yet a 24-year-old and a 26-year-old tried to hit on me.

Actually, they successfully hit on me, I just didn't let it go anywhere. The 24-year-old came up to me after finishing his song and started chatting. ET was doing some justice to "Stacy's Mom."

"I've known ET for about 16 years," the 24yo said, "since I was like 8." I did the math: he's 24. "He's a lot older than us," he continued.

"Us? He's not older than me," I said.

"How old are you?" he asked.

"I'm 39," I said lightly. His eyes bulged.

"You're 39?" he asked incredulously. I nodded. "You look incredible!"

"Good skincare," I said, "and it's dark in here."

He stared at me. "Wow," he murmured. "You're so gorgeous...." He reached up to touch my cheek. I let him, but I didn't encourage him. After a moment I moved my head and he let his hand drop.

I was tempted to sleep with him just so I could say I slept with someone 15 years younger than I am, but I'm trying to be virtuous and deserve a husband.

Anyway, when he got up to sing "Gangsta's Paradise," I went to mingle with some other people I knew. And the cute stranger on my other side struck up a conversation. He said I looked familiar, then asked me my name, if we were Facebook friends (we're not), how I knew ET, where I was from, and if I wanted a drink.

"Sure," I said. "Amstel light with a lime twist."

After he got up, I asked the person on his other side, whom I knew, "What's his story?"

"He's Rochel Steiner's ex-husband," she said.

Ooooooooooooooooh. See, I know Rochel Steiner. Not well, but she was one of the people I met when I went out dancing a few weeks ago. And they're actually not entirely divorced yet. I know it's a mistake to date recently divorced guys who got married very young. Nothing good can come of it. Also, he's only 26. Way to young for anything but friendship.

But he invited me to see him earn his second-degree black belt next Monday night. Karate is cool. I might go.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, July 06, 2009

Vitamin K hangover

I don't know why I was so sad last night. I went to a museum with friends of mine -- a museum I hadn't set foot in at all this century. (Which describes too many museums, alas.) It was fun; I like looking at paintings, even though I don't know much about art. Then we went for a late lunch, topped off with Cold Stone Creamery ice cream (medium Chocolate Jello pudding with peanut butter and oreos mixed in), and I went home.

But at home, I felt melancholy. I'd like to attribute it to the excess sugar and fat -- I usually get a small scoop, with just one mix-in -- but I don't think it was that. It could have been the way I felt ignored by the men at Shabbat lunch. Or the afternoon spent with my two lovely friends, all of us so unappreciated, so unloved, so unmarried.

I decided to take a couple Vitamin K. It took me a while to find them -- I hardly ever take them, and my apartment is such a disastrous mess, piles of papers and pill bottles everwhere. Anyone watching me would have thought I was tearing the place apart looking for a bag of cocaine or heroin. Instead of swallowing them whole, I chewed them. They're stronger that way.

While I sat moping, OS called again and we chatted.

"I have a question," I said hesitantly.

"Go ahead," he declared. "I have nothing to hide."

"You told me you were 11 in 1975 when you went on that feminist march," I said.

"Yes," he said.

"But that would make you 45 today," I finished.

"What? Wait... let me think. Math isn't my strong point...." I waited. "No!" he said. "I was 8 when I went on that march. I am definitely 42."

Am I a mistrustful person? That denial sounded like... denial.

"Okay," I said hesitantly.

"You're upset," he said.

"No," I said. "I just saw there was this discrepancy, and I wanted to clear it up."

He had to go make dinner for a friend who was coming over to watch a movie. "How late can I call you?" I told him 10 p.m., but by the time he called at 9:32, I was asleep.

And I slept until 8:15 a.m. Which is great for getting rest, but made me late for work. Losing my keys made me even later for work. I had put them in a small purse to carry with me yesterday, and I remember taking them out of the small purse. But I didn't put them in my big purse. I have no idea where I put them. I scrabbled through the apartment mess for 15 minutes before giving up and looking for my spare keys. Mercifully, those were easier to hand. Even more mercifully, my clients forgave me for being half an hour late.

Last week I was worried I was becoming manic. I kept feeling like I wanted my clients to stop talking so I could talk, and probably jumped in a few times before they were quite finished talking, or pointed out my observations a little more forcefully than necessary. Once I caught myself I was more mindful of my behavior. So I was already a little unstable, and last night/today isn't helping.

This blog was supposed to be a serious (or seriocomic) exploration about functioning well as a mental health professional with bipolar disorder. Lately it seems to have devolved into a series of my dating misadventures.

Please remember that underlying all the hilariously bad dates and disappointing encounters with men is an undercurrent of illness, like an underwater stream. My goal is to keep it underground, and not let it erupt like a geyser. Sometimes it's closer to the surface. Hopefully today it will submerge and stay down.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Intellectual flirting

Pinchas posted an interesting link on FB:

Iranian Clerics Declare Ahmadinejed Re-Election Illegitimate Source:

Iranian Clerics Declare Ahmadinejed Re-Election Illegitimate, An influential group of Iranian clerics took sides late Saturday, calling June's re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and by extension his government, illegitimate.

Comments flew thick and fast.

Pinchas: Significant development.

Ayelet: WTF?????? Moshiach must be imminent!

Pinchas: or Armageddon. (hopefully, in the immediate future, a more cooperative regime, then positive reform and, one day, a constitutional democracy.)

Ayelet: I'd rather have Moshiach ;)

Your move on Lexulous, unless you don't want to play.

Pinchas: well, perhaps within the next 230 years. i'll try to make a move before then.


Ayelet: okay, I can take a hint

Pinchas: It's a chink in the armor of the regime and undermines confidence in the supreme leader, who exercises more power than the president, a figurehead. i doubt he'll retract though, unless the Assembly of 86 Mujtahids threatens to dismiss him.

Ayelet: Wouldn't it be simpler to behead him, or crush him under a wall, or cut off his hands?

Renee: 87 lashes on the backside of his flesh.

Ayelet: Anyone else think all these Islamic punishments are just subconscious expressions of repressed sexual tension?

Pinchas: no. they are from traditional Islam, but applied only by fundamentalists. Jewish law, before Roman times, also had stoning and crushing (skila) for adultery, decapitation, and lashes (makot) for lesser offenses

Ayelet: Pre-Islamic culture was pretty misogynistic. Women were demonized, and sexual expression was dirty. Honor killings and female genital mutilation predate the Koran. Islamic culture didn't do much to liberate men or women from very strict sexual mores. The repression leads to reaction formation, a defense mechanism that causes people to overreact the opposite way of how they're feeling. Every violent expression of sharia law can be traced back to a subverted sexual impulse.

Pinchas: you asked about methods of capital punishment, often applied to men, not about female genital mutilation, required covering of the entire head and face, etc. i don't know their psychology or whether Freudian anaysis applies, just that's it's a violation of basic human rights.

Ayelet: Methods of capital punishment are part of state-sanctioned violence, just like prevalent feminine genital mutilation. It's all related. Any society that resorts to that much violence to deal with that many circumstances is projecting MAJOR anger and hostility, and externalizing the expression of that hostility toward "safe targets" -- i.e., people they consider to be deviants.

Renee: And perhaps, touching on what Ayelet has said, that shows up in our (Western) horror over suicide bombings, which is no different to kamikaze we saw in WWII. If we look back at Japanese History pre WWII era we see a horrifically violent nation. Although I often wonder at our own tolerance for violence. Anyway it’s a very interesting theory, especially when you expand it throughout history.

I can't tell if I'm amusing him, driving him further off, or looking like a fool. I deleted the Lexolous game he had no intention of playing. Still, it's something to do on a boring Sunday night.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Don't want to step on her toes

What is worse than waking up at 4 a.m. on a Sunday morning? Okay, many things, but it still sucks.

Since I'm up, I might as well tell you about a lawyer-philosopher I recently met on Facebook. He's friends with Faigie, who somehow is friends with both the real Ayelet and the blog Ayelet without knowing we're the same person. I'm not sure how. Faigie is Alona's cousin, and Alona is friends with both Ayelets, so Faigie might have seen one of Alona's comments on a blog post, checked out the blog, and requested to friend the blog Ayelet.

Anyway, last week Faigie posted a link to a blog post, "Iran Massacres Prove the U.N. is impotent." Her friend Pinchas "liked" the post. I commented on it:

Damn straight.

Pinchas responded,

political viagra needed.

I commented,

More like political castration. Abolish the UN!

As you may have noticed, I can be hotheaded and given to extreme statements. In cyberspace, many people are. Not Pinchas. On his Facebook page, he sedately quotes Gray's Elegy, the Babylonian Talmud, Benjamin Franklin, Proverbs, a Supreme Court decision, and Seinfeld. I know this because he friended me before the comments started getting heated.

abolition would, by definition, further impotence. nor do we want omnipotence. while basis for criticism exists, i cannot conclude, from the admittedly little i know, that on balance the UN does more harm than good, particularly in areas such as humanitarian development (e..g., UNICEF), peace-keeping, etc.

What is it about me that I can't just agree with people who make sense? Why did I have to go all out to demonize the U.N. because he wasn't?

Their peacekeeping troops are known to rape the female residents in the areas they're supposed to protect. I really don't have anything good to say about the UN.

Pinchas was taken aback.

UN was embarrassed by rape and other misconduct by troops in Africa. six perpetrators in the Congo mission were convicted and sentenced to life and their domestic government sponsor paid restitution. although rare, U.S. soldiers have been court martialed for rape/murder in Iraq, but we do not abolish the U.S. military. same re: rogue cops question is the extent of corruption and the U.N.'s efforts to hold outlaws responsible for their crimes against humanity.

Doesn't that make sense? You would think Ayelet would shut the hell up.

Sudan is on the UN Human Rights Council. Along with Angola, Congo, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Iran, Cuba, Syria, and other such "champions" of liberty and decency. This council condemns Israel for trying to get the Palestinians in Gaza to stop launching missiles directed at Israeli noncombatants. How can you view the UN as anything but a putrid joke???


i don't agree with the Council's unfair condemnation of Israel's self-defense, but membership's based on geography/ majority vote. UN can only be effective as its 192 members. fortunately, neither Israel nor U.S. is bound by its proclamations, but you haven't shown abolition or U.S. withdrawal (not Fmr. Amb. John Bolton, et. al. representing U.S) would be preferable; even your UN Watch link supports improvement, not abolition. nor do you acknowledge ANY positive contribution, focusing solely on the negative.

[U.N. Watch is a blog I follow. I posted a link to it on Pinchas's wall.] Again, a measured and reasonable response from Pinchas. What does Ayelet say?

The UN's member states don't get that democracy is not just majority rule. It must include protection for minorities. And free speech. They don't get this because they don't practice this in their own governance. I don't acknowledge any positive contributions because I honestly don't see any. Their peacekeepers don't keep the peace. Their NGOs are famously corrupt.

Faigie interceded at that point:

we all need yoga guys. and girls.

And I realized how shrill I was sounding.

sigh... it's been a looooooooooooong week

Think I managed to scare him off? Well, I wasn't sure, so I decided to make a discreet inquiry about him and emailed Faigie:

Your friend is Pinchas kinda cute. Think I scared him with my screed against the UN?

She responded:

i have no idea....i've never met him yet. he friended me last week.

Oh. So they're not definitely... just friends. Or are they?

oh -- lol -- thought u knew him ;)

Could I sound any lamer?

nope. he friended me and started commenting on my stuff :)

Pretty much what he did with me.

interesting... he must like outspoken brunettes ;)

Is she into Pinchas as much as I am? I don't know; she changed the subject. And since she met him first, and she's prettier than I am, I think she probably has a better claim to his affections. But I don't get the sense she's interested, unless she's playing it cool.

I did challenge Pinchas to a game of Lexulous, though. That's the online version of Scrabble I play on Facebook. For a couple of days he ignored the challenge, and I thought I had overplayed my hand. Then last night he IMed me:

Pinchas: did you send me a word game? i never know if third party applications on FB are authorized. I love word games

Ayelet: yes, it's like Scrabble -- I thought you would be a worthy opponent ;)

Pinchas: oh, ok. when they are real takes me forever to figure out how to play, hahahha, thanks. i like word games like Balderdash, i'm a logophile, largolept... vocab and etymology

Logophile? Largolept? Be still my heart!

Ayelet: same here, although the words that pack the most punch on Scrabble aren't always the most interesting

Pinchas: yeah, not patient for games generally unless its fast simple and interesting. sorry, but have to run; thanks for having me in mind, happy fourth

How can I capture his interest quickly?

Ayelet: is that how you like your women? ;) happy fourth

It might have worked:

hahaha fast and interesting, yes, that's how i like em

I suppose we'll see. It's his move. And I hope I'm not stepping on Faigie's toes.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Little lies

While talking with the Other Survivor (OS), he mentioned taking part in some big feminist march in 1975.

"Don't you remember it?" he asked me.

"I was 5," I said. "I don't remember it. How old were you?"

"I was 11," he said.

I realized, while thinking about our conversation over Shabbos, that if he was 11 in 1975, he is now 45. Not a bad age, but he and his matchmaker initially told me he was 42.

I don't lie about my age. I could, easily; today at a potluck lunch, I met a woman who graduated five years after I did from the same university, and she thought I was younger than she is. "Relentlessly good skincare," I told her. "Sunscreen every morning, retinol serum every night, and undereye treatment." She forgot my name when she wanted to introduce me to someone else, because, as she put it, "I look at you and I think, 'Miss Radiant Skin.'" Quite poetic for a nephrologist.

So I have little tolerance for people who do lie about their age. But part of me wonders if I'm just trying to find something wrong with OS because I know he had cancer and lied about his age.

At lunch today I tried not to feel invisible, or to not mind feeling invisible, as other people talked around me. I really don't understand why ET thinks I'm so hot. None of the men who were there gave me the time of day.

It must have showed in my expression. "What are you thinking, Ayelet?" asked the nephrologist as we were helping clean up.

"Do you really want to hear?" I asked. She nodded. "I'm wondering why there are so many men and women here, and they're not connecting." Actually, I was really wondering why none of the men were connecting with me, but I didn't want to say that.

"Which one do you want to connect with?" asked a brash Australian lass, stacking dirty plates. I laughed and demurred. There was a few I kind of liked, actually, but they could not have been less interested in me, judging by their lack of eye contact and failure to engage me in conversation. I didn't want to tell her I liked them only to get officially shot down.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Friday, July 03, 2009

Another kind of survivor

A friend of mine sends out a shidduch spreadsheet from time to time, with little thumbnail descriptions of available singles. One of them caught my eye this morning. Lives in Canada, 42 years old, Modern Orthodox machmir, but flexible about hair covering. He has smicha, but he runs a family business.

The only description of his personality was "wants someone who is open minded and spiritual." He sounds open minded and spiritual. A little more religious than I am, but after the date with DK, I'm looking for more rather than less religious than I am.

So I called his shadchanit this morning, chatted, and gave her my phone number. Less than an hour later he called me.

I was pleasantly surprised, and we had a great conversation. He thinks what I do for a living is cool. He Googled me and found all sorts of interesting information, including a link to the article I published. He didn't seem intimidated by my intelligence or my affinity for working with substance abusers, and he's a good conversationalist. He wasn't put off by my family background, which some people who were raised religious tend to disdain.

I guess he felt pretty comfortable talking with me, too, because he told me he's a cancer survivor. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Diagnosed 12 years ago, in remission for 5 years.

Usually I'm better at reproducing the dialogue I have with others for your reading pleasure. I must be pretty freaked out, because I can no longer recall precisely what he said, what I said. I do remember he regretted springing this information on me in our first conversation. I tried to reassure him that I also have more than a few skeletons in my closet, but I usually don't let them out in the first conversation.

We left it that he will call again, and I'm open to meeting him. But I'm feeling kind of odd about this. Should I be worried that he had cancer? Should I be worried that he told me in our first conversation? Which is worse?
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

History doesn't repeat itself

Jurassic Vassilievich sent me an instant message Sunday night, asking how I was doing. Too tired to type, I sent him a link to my post about the 18-minute date. Last night he sent me an email:

Before I start, I need you to understand that the last thing I want to do is to hurt you any more than you hurt already. So please take this email in its intended spirit -- stemming from care for you.

I don't know whether or not you intended it, but I have read your blog. All of it. And now, a part of me wishes that I hadn't.

I had to read it in chunks, because there was only so much of it that I could bear at a time. After you had friended me and I started reading your status updates on Facebook, I sensed some of your unhappiness, but at that time I couldn't even imagine a fraction of what I had read. Even after our first conversation, I didn't appreciate how much you had gone through, or how hard it has been on you.

Of course, I read your post about me, and I realized that I might have seemed insensitive both when you called me, and when we IM'ed a couple of nights ago. I can only say that I'm sorry, I did not mean to be an ass.

Also, I'm afraid you misunderstood my intentions when I gave you my number. I did it because I heard the pain in your voice, and thought (rightly or wrongly), that you could use some support from outside your regular circle of friends.

As for the questions in your post, if you really need to ask, then here are the answers:

1. Whatever you found annoying about me 20 years ago probably is still there. And if you can't quite put your finger on it, I can probably offer a few helpful suggestions. :-)

2. As I told you when we spoke, I loved the girl I knew 20 years ago. On some level, I will always care about you, but I can't go beyond that.

3. I have absolutely no desire to go anywhere near any kind of Orthodoxy ever again.

I realize that (almost) the last thing you want is another male friend. I wish that I could offer more, or at least that I could lessen your pain, but I don't see how I can do that. On the other hand, if you ever need anything from me, all you have to do is ask. Always.

Engineers. They are thorough, aren't they? ;) (ET is also an engineer, and also read the blog from beginning to end once he was introduced to it. Occasionally ET takes issue with a post he finds less than 100% accurate from his perspective. Apparently engineers don't really understand the art of memoir.)

I'm glad JV's not offended that I blogged about finding him annoying -- in retrospect, I shouldn't have shown him anything from the blog. But he's kind enough to take it in stride. I wrote back:

No worries. I was exploring an idea, which, as it turns out, wasn't meant to go anywhere. I appreciate your friendship and consideration. :)

In other news, my sister Jerusha did something entirely unprecedented:

what's up? are you joining us in Chicago? do you have fun plans for the 4th?

i met someone i thought you might like. he's 37, a baal tshuva, lives in Brooklyn, a nice guy, separated, no kids. would you be interested in meeting or emailing him?

as malka would say, ttyl!

Jerusha and her kids are going to visit Yonina and her kids in Chicago this month. In the 17 years we've lived in NYC, Jerusha has never tried to set me up. Ever. To say I was shocked would be an understatement on the scale of calling Michael Jackson "troubled."

Unfortunately, because of my vacation, I can't go to Chicago -- I can't take any more time off. Also, I was promoted, so this month will be really busy. I'm going to be coordinating our new dual diagnosis program, which doesn't yet exist so I'll actually be co-creating it. Wish I could join you. How are all of you? I'm trying to think of something to get for Malka for her bat mitzvah. I know she wanted a $250 Claire's gift certificate, but I'd like to get her something more lasting. Any ideas?

I guess I'd be interested in meeting the guy. Thanks for thinking of me. How long has he been separated?

She responded:

Congratulations on your promotion and new program.

I'll think about what you could do for Malka, I agree Claire's isn't optimal, plus $20-40 would be more than enough there!

His name is M. I'll attach his picture. His email is I did mention you to him, he said he'd be interested in meeting you.

Wow. End of the Cold War. I wrote back:

Thanks. How did you meet M? You can give him my email address. I'm attaching a photo as well.

I'll keep everyone posted...
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