Saturday, February 27, 2010

So much for Purim....

JV and I both have colds, and the tri-state area is blanketed with snow. I know we're supposed to go out to hear megilla, but we're both exhausted and not feeling well, so we're staying in. Just as well, because the Marilyn Monroe costume I got is a little too tight and a little too see-through. (I bought it on sale the day after Halloween and they wouldn't let me try it on.)

"Next year, it might be even tighter on me," I quipped to JV after I tried it on and almost couldn't zip it.

"We'll get you a nun costume, then," he responded, without panicking.

Tomorrow we're taking the children to a Russian opera based on the Purim story. Should be interesting. Hope everyone else has a freilichen Purim!
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Prozac: Clearly NOT the answer

People with bipolar disorder are said to be more sensitive to medications, including side effects. How could I forget this? Even 20 little mg of Prozac has had me jittery and headachy for the past two days. I can't keep taking it. Experiment failed. Actually, I was hoping for one particular side effect -- nausea and lack of appetite. Instead, I got dizziness and sinusitis. No "Prozac diet" for me.

I also had a very weird dream last night. I was out for dinner with JV and his kids, and Malchick 1 ordered lobster. JV obviously didn't want him to have lobster, but he didn't forbid it, and Malchick 1 ended up having it. Not sure what this means, except that it's one dream I won't share with JV. He'll think I'm turning into Mara.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, February 15, 2010

A little extra help

I saw Dr. R again today and told him about my nearly fatal bout of BPMS.

"I'm just having the worst winter, mood-wise," I said. "Nothing seems to work. I use the light box, I get some exercise, I've got a great boyfriend, and I'm still depressed. The last week of January, I was miserable every minute of every day until I got my period. I thought I was either going to cut my throat or check into a psychiatric hospital.

"It's taking me more than a month to recover from minor gum surgery. Work is excruciatingly difficult. I can't always shower when I should. I need more help," I concluded

"What do you think we should do?" asked Dr. R. I like to think that he asks me questions like that because I'm a mental health professional, not just because I've tried so many medications. Or because he doesn't know what he's doing.

"My friend Joey thinks I should go on the pill," I said. Joey's a psychiatrist; I've mentioned him to Dr. R before. "Joey says that estrogen is the best mood stabilizer for women with bipolar. He has a patient with bipolar who went off the pill to get pregnant, and every month she nearly kills her husband."

"Have you spoken to your gynecologist?" asked Dr. R.

"He refuses to put me on the pill," I said. "He says it's not indicated for women with bipolar disorder."

"Unfortunately, I am not familiar with the different birth control pills, so I cannot prescribe them. What other options do we have?" asked Dr. R.

"Well, Lamictal and Gabitril didn't work for me," I said. "I don't think going back on Depakote would help. Eli Lilly markets a time-limited form of Prozac as Sarafem for Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder." That's what psychiatrists officially call PMS. "You could write me a prescription for 30 days, and I could take it when I've got PMS. Prozac always worked well for me before, although it did make me manic."

"But you are taking lithium now, so that is less likely," observed Dr. R. He wrote out a script for 20 mg of Prozac. I thought about asking for more, but he's fairly conservative -- starts low and gradually builds.

"I don't know if I'll still need it after the time change," I said. "I might feel better then. This winter just hit me so hard. I'm not functioning well. I can't believe my mouth still hurts -- the surgery was a month ago."

"There was research done during World War II on how long it takes wounds to heal," said Dr. R. "When the army was advancing, wounds would heal faster. When the army was retreating, they healed more slowly."

"Morale," I said. Right now, mine is low, and it shouldn't be. I'm doing well at work, but it's a constant struggle.

I'll be trying the Prozac in about 5 days, and I'll see Dr. R sooner than usual. Fortunately, he accepts the insurance my employer is switching to. I think.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Valentine's Weekend

JV spent the weekend on the West Side, with threefold purpose:
  1. To meet and earn the approval of my good friends Miriam and Alona
  2. To get a decent haircut, since when he goes alone he gets the wrong cut
  3. To take me to Prime Grill
Mission accomplished on all three counts.

Friday night JV and I went to Miriam's. She wanted to show him that not all modern orthodox people are unpleasant, nasty, shallow, and so focused on the trees that they completely miss the forest.

"I already know that," said JV as we walked up Columbus Avenue. "I know there are good, decent people who happen to be orthodox. But they're not good, decent people because they're frum. They're good and decent in spite of being frum."

Dinner was interesting. Two guests dominated the conversation. One was a very idealistic young lawyer who's convinced he can make the West Side a more warm and welcoming place by encouraging people to socialize and be more friendly and connected to each other. To further this lofty goal, he started an organization and called it the New World Order.

"Does he not realize that sounds like 'Aryan Brotherhood'?" I asked Miriam quietly when I helped her clear the salad and serve the main course.

One of the NWO's projects is to make the world's biggest tallis. They plan to do this over the summer. They have a rabbinic adviser and lots of paint. I'm not sure where they're planning to get the fabric. But when Young Idealistic Attorney wasn't talking up his giant tallis, he was expounding on his love for "vanity canes" (Conan O'Brien's term for "walking sticks"). In his quest for fantastic and elaborate (and cheap) vanity canes, YIA plumbed the depths of scary Brooklyn. He's from Los Angeles and thinks New York has an excess of weirdos.

Whatever.... At least he's well-meaning and wants to help people (albeit screening out the weirdos who probably need the most help). The other loudmouth was a very pushy social worker who believed she was doing CBT because she told a depressed client, "You have to make a list of five things that make you happy," and thought she had substance abuse experience because one of her clients used to use heroin.

"How often do you test him?" I asked.

"Test him for what?" she said.

Sometimes I think that some people talk in inverse proportion to their intelligence. Between Pushy Social Worker and YIA, the meal had the opposite effect Miriam intended. It really just reinforced JV's low opinion of West Siders and the orthodox. JV barely got a word in during the entire meal.

JV walked me home afterward. "I can't believe how little I related to PSW and YIA," I told JV. "I don't know if I'm part of that world anymore."

JV smiled. "You have other options," he said.

Lunch at Alona's was much nicer. Batya flirted shamelessly with JV the whole time. I was tempted to say, "See how nice having a little girl is?" but thought that might be pushing it.

Alona and Adir are unusual among the modern orthodox in that they are committed Democrats. Somehow President Obama came up, of whom JV is not a fan. I'm not a huge fan either, but JV was quite disparaging.

"What kind of message did he send to Poland and Czech Republic by withdrawing the missile treaty?" JV demanded of us.

Alona and I looked at each other blankly. We had no idea Obama had sent any message to Poland and Czech Republic.

"What did he do?" I asked. Apparently George W. Bush endorsed some kind of missile treaty for Poland and Czech Republic, to protect them from Russia's gathering power. And Obama reneged on that treaty, showing those nascent democracies that established democracies like the U.S. don't keep their promises. JV was born in Belarus and still takes a lively interest in that part of the world. Alona and I like to think we're well-informed, but clearly we're no match for JV.

Saturday night JV and I went to see "Avatar," which we thoroughly enjoyed. It's not subtle; James Cameron might as well flash a big sign saying "THIS IS FORESHADOWING" at various points, but the special effects were spectacular. On the way to the theater we walked past Magnolia Bakery, which is famous for its cupcakes.

"Why are you stopping?" I asked JV.

"Maybe I'll get you one of these on the way back," said JV.

"Don't toy with me," I warned him. "It won't get you out of your deep-fried Milky Way obligation."

"I know," said JV, as ruefully as Han Solo in "The Empire Strikes Back." After "Avatar" we stopped into the bakery.

"Maybe we'll get two," said JV.

I looked at him quizzically. When JV and I got back together, he'd been on a serious diet and exercise regimen for a few months and had lost about 25 pounds. After we started dating, the exercise diminished in frequency, but he was still pretty careful about what he ate. Now he's as careless as I am. This is not a good thing; no matter how beautiful he thinks I am (and I think it's considerably beautiful even though he hardly ever says anything), I definitely need to lose weight. And I don't want to sabotage his efforts in that area, either.

But it was Valentine's Weekend. We didn't have to diet right then. So we got two cupcakes and split them. If you're going to Magnolia bakery, I would advise you to have the red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting. The chocolate cupcake was dry and crumbly, and the vanilla frosting was bland and much too sweet.

Sunday morning we went to the haircuts I'd booked for us. "We need to look through magazines to see what I want," I told him on the subway.

JV raised his eyebrows.

"What we want," I amended. "But in this case it amounts to the same thing, doesn't it? You don't really have an opinion and I do." Actually, he does have opinions and I don't completely discount them. At the salon we looked through a GQ and an In Touch. He vetoed some of the styles I showed him but was amenable to others. I talked to the stylist and JV got a great haircut.

I got my hair colored. I had been advised by another hairdresser to get a semipermanent shade slightly lighter than my natural color. The hairdresser at the salon advised against semipermanent and even though I asked for a lighter dark brown, gave me a darker dark brown than my natural color.

I'm kind of upset about that, but I think he gave me a good cut -- I won't know until I wash and air dry it. He also blew it out straight very quickly. But we're still not going back there.

"I think this could be one of our rituals," I told JV.


"Every couple has things they do together," I told him. "It's part of how they maintain the relationship, by having fun together. You have to admit that getting your hair cut with me is a lot more fun than getting it cut without me."

"That's certainly true," said JV.

"And you get a much better cut," I said.

"Also true," JV agreed.

"What were you thinking before that first haircut I took you for?" I asked him.

"'Humor her,'" said JV dryly. "'Let her have her fun. It's no big deal.'"

"I had a lot more power over you at that point than I do now," I said.

"You did," JV agreed.

"That's why you were afraid of hanging out as friends all the time, like I said we should after the first haircut," I said. "You were afraid you'd fall desperately in love with me again."

JV thought about that. "True," he said.

"Joke's on me," I grumbled.

JV laughed and kissed me on the forehead. "Isn't it better this way?" he asked. "Isn't it a healthier relationship when you don't have all that power over me?"

"Well, it's a lot less convenient," I said.

"You seem to manage," JV observed. I suppose I do.

We wound up our weekend at Prime Grill, where I had sangria, fois gras, duck, and chocolate lava cake, which I love as much as chocolate souffle. I was afraid it wouldn't live up to the magic I'd invested in it. I was wrong; it was absolutely wonderful.

Although I think $16 is a lot to pay for a glass of sangria, and $12 is entirely too much for a plate of grilled peppers and zucchini. But the foie gras, duck, and lava cake were sublime. And now JV is the only man who promised to take me to Prime Grill and actually kept his promise.

Of course, he still has to get me that deep-fried Milky Way, and we have to figure out what we're doing over Passover. He wants to go to Florida with his children and his parents. Most likely they'd rent a 2-bedroom condo and put me in the living room on the foldout couch.

I can live with that, although I'll need to get pajamas. I didn't get to wear my bathing suits all that much on the Alaska Cruise, so even though I don't really like going to the beach, I think it will be worth it. And I was able to take off from work for all of Pesach and even the day before, since I have 90 hours of vacation time and only until June 11 -- the day I started in 2008 -- to use them.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Purim, Pesach, and JV's birthday

I thought it would be romantic for JV to pick me up from work last night. Unfortunately, reality intervened: traffic snarled, and I ended up taking the subway to meet him halfway.

"What are we doing for Purim?" I asked him. I have a costume; Miriam and I went shopping the day after Halloween and I bought a blond Marilyn Monroe wig and a white "Seven-Year Itch" halter dress. I'll wear it with big pink CZ earrings and a pink tourmaline ring my aunt gave me. Not really diamonds, but I don't have any of those.

"I have the kids that evening," said JV. "I guess we'll all go to shul."

"Do you have a costume?" I asked. If I'm getting dressed up, he'd better, too.

"I have a pope costume," JV said. "I got it a few years ago for a Halloween party at work. I have to get something for the kids."

Percolating in my head was another idea, which I haven't yet shared with him. I want us to make shaloch manot, and hand them out at shul with his kids. But what kind of card would we include?
Purim Sameach
From JV, Ayelet,
Malchick 1 & Malchick 2

Not sure if that's too much.

"We also have to talk about Pesach," I said.

"I'm having the sedarim here, with my family," said JV. "I have the kids this year. After the seders, I thought I'd take the kids to Florida."

"What part of that do you want me around for?" I asked.

"What part do you want to be around for?" asked JV.

"I asked you first," I said. JV gave me a look. We didn't resolve anything. Jerusha also has her kids for Pesach, so my mother wants me to go there; she is, and Yaffa might. I'm not sure. I think I'll see how Purim goes.

And JV's birthday is coming up. What should I get him? I got him a pepper grinder for Chanuka, because he didn't have one. The other glaring lack in his kitchen -- which is almost as small as mine, and I live in a Manhattan studio apartment -- is a garbage can. He just puts a garbage bag on the floor, loose. For some reason he's never gotten a garbage can.

Problem is, that gift is not only unromantic, it's recycled. I gave GI Josh a bathroom garbage can for his birthday when I was dating him. Inside I'd put a new leather wallet, since his was falling apart. I thought it was a nice gift. He never ended up getting me anything for my birthday -- told me he'd ordered a pearl bracelet online, but somehow it never arrived.

I'm not quite superstitious enough to believe that if I get this boyfriend a garbage can he'll also throw me out. And JV did get me beautiful earrings for Chanuka, albeit earrings I picked out. So maybe I will get him a garbage can for his birthday. What else do you get the Russian engineer who has everything?
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The ex-wife strikes back

Last night I went out to dinner with JV, his parents, his kids, his sister, and her boyfriend to celebrate his parents' 40th anniversary. When I got home, there was an interesting email in my Facebook inbox from a guy named Yossi:

how come everyone thinks you are a lesbian bitch

Bitch I kind of understand -- but lesbian? I have nothing against lesbians. I even tried to become one by watching every episode of "The L Word," but it didn't work.

who thinks that?

I asked him. I didn't bother asking who he was or how he knew me -- the modern orthodox community is a famously gossipy place, so I can believe my name has been bandied around in my absence, by people who know me little or not at all.

it came up today at the shabas meal

I guess loshon hora was on the menu between the gefilte fish and the cholent. But who was saying it?

which Shabbos meal?

I asked. He wouldn't tell me.

rather not say. but she said that for a while you were involved with a hindy kopppel though i dont know who that is

Hindy Koppel is a friend of mine. Very sweet girl. Not a lesbian. And who could "she" possibly be? Then it hit me...

Well, if you won't tell me who said it, then I can't tell you why she said it. Hindy Koppel is a friend of mine but we were never lovers. Was it Mara Dreck?

It sure was. Surprised the heck out of him:

how did you know, the truth

The truth? Ah, who has time to read an email that long about how sick Mara is, how she must have heard from her children that Daddy has a new friend named Ayelet and they like spending time with her. I'll skip that part.

Mara hates me.

I thought that covered it. He tries to back-pedal:

well it came up in a conversation about closeted gays and lesbians. Mara may not have said it, but she was at the meal. The conversation wasnt about you, but that you are in the closet was mentioned, and that hindy was a past lover

Of course Mara said it. I didn't realize she knew I knew Hindy -- maybe someone else knows we're friends and decided to put 0 + 0 together to make 4. I decided to hit back:

Mara was always jealous of me because I went out with her ex-husband in college, and he loved me more than he ever loved her. And now he and I are back together, and she can't stand it. So she'll say anything to try to make me look bad, since she couldn't win his love and I did.

Feel free to share this with Mara.

I had assumed the meal took place in Brooklyn.

Im not saying that she was the one that said it. I don't remember specifically who said it. but she was at the meal. and no one seemed surprised that you were lesbian so it seemed like its known on the UWS

Maybe Mara went to the UWS for Shabbat instead. But I can't think of anyone on the UWS who thinks I'm a lesbian -- unless it's because I'm still single and I don't date many guys who live on the West Side.

well, I don't know who else was at the meal who hates me enough to try to start a stupid rumor like that ;) and since you refuse to tell me who else was there, all I can say is it's not true

I called JV, who was initially both enraged and amused. He had thought that when she found out about us -- most likely from her kids, since he wasn't going to say anything -- she would say something along the lines of, "She's welcome to him -- he's a rotten husband." I told him she'd still be jealous of me and resentful. And I was right.

He let me gloat for a bit before giving me something to worry about: that Mara could conceivably try to mess with the kids about me -- telling them I'm a bad person or that JV will love me more than he loves them. That freaked me out. I don't want them getting hurt by this.

"I don't think they'll believe anything she says about you," said JV. "It won't match their own impression of you, or how my family and I act toward you." So far, the kids like me, especially Malchick 1, who shared a cookie with me when I said I was too full to have one.

"I'll give you a little piece, so you can taste it," he said. We'd gone to JV's grandmother's apartment after dinner so JV could give her a new remote control, and she brought out a tin of cookies even though we'd just had a 4-course fancy French meal.

Malchick 2 likes me, too, but not as much. Which is fine. We're all getting along. And Mara can't stand it.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Friday, February 05, 2010

Take me to the Milky Way

The deep-fried Milky Way, that is. I got my cholesterol down to a level my doctor is happy with, thanks to red yeast rice, and now JV, to his disgust, has to get me a deep-fried Milky Way bar.

That can't happen until February 27, because he won't get me something so obviously unhealthy in front of his kids. This weekend, he's got the kids, and we're all celebrating his parents' 40th wedding anniversary on Saturday night, going out to dinner at the French Culinary Institute. I very much doubt they have deep-fried Milky Ways on the menu.

The weekend of Valentine's Day we're spending in the city. We're having dinner with Fran, Tikva, and Co. on February 12 (at least I hope we are -- I have to call and ask); we're having lunch with Alona and Adir on February 13. On February 14, we're getting a haircut. I need one, he needs one, and it was a haircut that sort of brought us back together, so I think it's romantic. Besides, if I don't go with him, he doesn't get the right haircut.

I'm also getting my first dye job. Semipermanent color, just to cover the grays that I just can't keep up with anymore. Too numerous to pluck. Then for dinner we're going to -- ta da! -- PRIME GRILL. Allegedly. I still somehow think something will keep me from that restaurant. I'm just fated never to go there.

So the next weekend JV doesn't have his children is February 26-27. And that's when we'll go to the Milky Way. He has the kids on Sunday (every Sunday until April 15; his ex is an accountant). I assume we'll do something fun together, maybe pick out frames for JV and Malchick 1, who needs his first pair of glasses.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, February 04, 2010

"I assume THAT belongs to you?"

On Monday night JV and I paid a shiva call on my college friend Shara, who lives in Long Island. She recently lost her father. I took the LIRR to Hicksville, met JV on the platform, and after a few false stops (first JV's memory of the address was wrong, then GPS directed us to the house across the street), we arrived just in time for ma'ariv.

"Ayelet, JV, thank you for coming! We didn't have a minyan, you're just in time," said Shara, hugging me. So JV and I davened with them. I hadn't prayed formally since visiting JV's synagogue more than a month ago, so it was high time.

After davening JV and I went to be introduced to Shara's mother and offer our condolences.

"Mom, this is Ayelet," said Shara. "We went to college together."

"I remember your name," said Mrs. Shara. She looked at me, then JV, then raised an eyebrow. "I assume that belongs to you?" she asked me, pointing at him. She's Israeli, so I shouldn't have been surprised by her bluntness.

I was kind of afraid to answer. "Yes," said JV, who seemed amused.

Other friends of Mrs. Shara arrived, and JV and I started chatting to Shara's cousin Yenta. Yenta is also a clinical social worker, so we talked shop for a few minutes; then she wanted to know all about my religious status.

It's interesting. Shara has been dating a guy, Devin, she met on SawyouatSinai. He's modern orthodox, although he wasn't raised as such. Shara was raised Conservative, as I was and where JV currently stands. I would have suggested that we trade boyfriends, but my boyfriend is much younger and cuter than Shara's. And his kids are younger; Devin has a 12-year-old daughter. Eek.

But Yenta kept pestering me to talk about how I became religious. I tried to refocus the conversation on her and her husband; they grew religiously after they got married, although at different paces. I didn't want to admit that I'm no longer 100% shomer shabbat.

Fortunately, Shara suggested I tell Yenta the story of how JV and I met, broke up, met again, and got back together, which distracted her wonderfully. JV loves to hear and watch me tell the story, because every time he rolls his eyes, I have to add more detail.

"So we dated for a few months and broke up..." I started. JV rolled his eyes.

"Okay, I broke up with him on the phone because he was madly in love with me and just too annoying," I added. JV nodded. Even though Shara knows the story, she loves hearing it. She and Yenta were delighted with my recounting.

"So then last July I saw his name on Facebook, commenting on a friend's page, and I friended him..." You readers know the story. I thought it was kind of obvious that we'd only been dating a few months, but Yenta asked, "So when did you two get married?"

"We're not married!" I made sure to say very quickly. JV chuckled. It was getting late, and I kind of wanted to leave. I hadn't seen JV in more than a week and I wanted time alone with him. Although I have to say, it was nice paying a shiva call as half of a couple. I don't think I've ever done that before.

We went into the living room to say goodbye to Mrs. Shara, and somehow I wound up also telling her the story of Ayelet and JV. Which she loved.

"And now how long are you married?" she asked. What is with these people? I realize they're in mourning, but we only got back together four months ago!

"We're not married!" I said, even more quickly than before. "We're just dating." JV's shoulders shook as he held in the guffaws.

"Well, I think it was meant to be," said Mrs. Shara.

"From your mouth to Gd's ears," I said.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"