Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What the FRAC?

I haven't posted much about my mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, because it's more emotional than intellectual; less about acquiring knowledge and more about the process. But I summarized the process today with my therapist.

Basically, mindfulness allows you to regain your emotional balance and cope with an upsetting or angering situation. It doesn't change the situation, just helps you cope with it as best you can -- and keeps you from making it worse by getting upset, anxious or angry.

"Basically," I said, "it's feel the feeling, breathe to calm and center yourself, accept the situation, and cope with it. F-B-A-C. F-BAC."

"It would be nice if we could come up with a better acronym," opined my therapist. "More vowels maybe."

I thought out loud for a few minutes. I didn't come up with a vowel, but I changed "breathe" to "respire." So it's "feel - respire - accept - cope" or FRAC.

I'm supposed to practice FRAC sometime this week by going to a social event, since I've been hibernating so much. Not sure if I'll be able to find one I can tolerate this week, but next week there are a few possibilities.

Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

He likes me because I'm brainy and cute. Why don't I like him?

So far, eHarmony has yielded just one real correspondence that led to a phone conversation. Two conversations, actually, so far. He's a 43yo computer guy who lives in the Midwest. Thinks talking to me is more entertaining than "a barrel of monkeys" because we talked about South American literature and other intellectual subjects. Recommended I read "Liar's Poker" for its wonderful prose. Told me several times I look very cute in my profile pictures.

And he annoys the crap out of me. I can't explain why, except that he is what Edith Wharton would have labeled "bluff and genial." It's galling that he would be familiar with Wharton's oeuvre, and might even call it an "oeuvre." It's like Fred Flintstone attended the University of Chicago.

He's a really nice guy, and really into me. Numerous emails and phone calls, even asked me to friend him on Facebook. But I don't enjoy talking to him. For one thing, he interrupts constantly, which drives me batshit crazy. And then there's the bluff geniality. It just puts my back up.

Fortunately, I'm going to have to keep getting to know him slowly, due to the distance. He might try to visit me and some other friends who live in the area. He understands that right now I don't have a travel budget, although I do have plenty of free time. I'm just pissed out of my mind that the first smart guy to like me in a long time is so damn annoying.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, March 21, 2011

A shot in the ass

Apparently a lot has been going on behind my back. To be more precise, on my back. The pain in my ass is an abscess, which the doctor injected with cortisone (OUCH!).

I also have a scar on my shoulder from a healed abscess that received another cortisone injection (ouch), and a mole at the top of my ass crack that's "atypical." How could Ayelet have a typical mole? It's been there for years, but the doctor biopsied it (OUCH!) just to make sure it's not malignant.

I did have a mole removed from my back in college, which returned and I had removed again. Both times it was benign, so I'm not worried.

She also prescribed a $16 bottle of antibiotic cleanser that I'm supposed to use on my abscesses and shoulders. I'm thinking the abscesses came from acne, which I still suffer from occasionally. I guess the cleanser will get rid of it. If it works I'll look to get it cheaper online.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Pain in my ass

At first I thought it was just a boil -- a raised and painful but closed sore. Then it started... stretching a little. I revised my diagnosis to cellulitis after Googling my symptoms and trying to look at my behind in the mirror. Since I'm not a gymnast, that was very difficult.

It's embarrassing because, as I read, cellulitis can be caused by poor hygiene and poor circulation. I have to admit, I don't shower every day when I'm just sitting around making networking phone calls and emailing resumes. And that's most of what I've been doing. 

I first noticed it the end of last week. By Friday it hurt enough to make me think I should consult a dermatologist, and I have an appointment to see one tomorrow. I have a bunch of moles that need checking anyway, so I might as well go now. Fortunately, I don't have a fever and chills, signs that the cellulitis is getting serious, but I also don't feel so great.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dr. Pilot: Crash and burn?

Last you all heard, I sent a breezy email to Dr. Pilot telling him I'd recently lost my grandmother and didn't have any big weekend plans. He responded:

I'm so sorry to hear about your grandmother. I lost my last surviving grandparent (my maternal grandfather) a few years ago. Its horrible. I can understand your wanting to take it easy. I totally get what you say about getting fresh fruit from the farmers market - there's one right around the corner from my house and I love buying my fruit from there during the spring an summer!

unfortunately am not jetting off anywhere this weekend - I have to work all weekend - oh well - someone has to!

What's your schedule next week? Would you like to get together for a drink or something?

Take care, Dr. P

By Friday 3/11/11 we'd agreed to have drinks on Monday 3/14/11. He asked, "Do you want to talk on the phone first?" I sent him my phone number. And didn't hear anything back.

By Monday afternoon I was annoyed, so I sent him another email:

Is everything okay? Ayelet

He got back to me today:

Hi Ayelet,

I am so sorry about yesterday. I was on call all weekend and then was pressed into being on call again last night. I meant to call you and then it got really busy and the time just ran away from me. I'd love to reschedule if you're willing.

Hope you're having a good day, Dr. P

I was very annoyed. I didn't want it to show when I responded. I may have overcompensated:

All is forgiven ;) My sister's a doctor, so I know how crazy call can be. Wednesday night? Give me a call, 212-555-1446.

Now I'm feeling that was too darn nice. But I also think that this is useful. If he's so willing to leave me hanging now, is that going to get better or stay the same? Either way, it's worth having a drink with him -- if he gets back to me in a timely fashion this time around. Big "if."

To be honest, he's the only man I've started corresponding with through eHarmony, despite well over 100 introductions. I'm completely underwhelmed.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Double standard douchebag

Sitting at home on a Saturday night is pretty lame. I shouldn't compound it by surfing dating websites. But I went on SuperTova and saw a 41yo online who seemed nice. So I sent him an IM, and because he responded, I thought he might be interested in me.

Ayelet: hi
Double Standard Douchebag: shavuah tov
A: shavua tov
DSD: are you from n.y.?
A: I've lived here for a while, grew up upstate
your background sounds interesting
DSD: yes im from israel and do want to go back there when i finish grad school

Hm. I'm pretty sure my mother doesn't want me to make aliyah. But several years ago, I knew a guy who wanted to make aliyah more than anything. He met a nice girl from Los Angeles. They now live in Los Angeles.

A: what r u studying?
A: at Baruch?
DSD: brooklyn college
A: u live in Bkln?
DSD: yes flatbush
A: I have friends there

I thought we might play a little Jewish geography, see who we know in common, so I was surprised by his next text:

DSD: do you know a nice aliyah oriented girl, orthodox or very close to it age maximum 37?

1. You're 41, jerk.
2. I'm not here to find a match for the rest of the world.

DSD: I may have an idea for you

Oh really? What's your idea of a good match for me?

A: I like to date men close to my age
DSD: o.k i will think about it I do know someone 51 who looks younger has a very good heart lives in queens
A: Would you be interested in dating a girl who's 45 and looks 35?

No response. Shocker. What a douchebag.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A casual response

Props to Gloria Chang, who sent me the following note:

I'd be honest without going into a lot of detail. You might write, for example, "I'm actually in mourning for my grandmother right now, so I'm planning to (go to a museum, stroll in the park, something quiet, whatever)." Then do it. I'd also briefly describe going on job interviews. He doesn't need to know all the details of that either.

This may well be a heavensent test of his character, by the way. A close and dear relative of mine (grandfather's sister) died right after my husband and I started going out. I was terribly shaken. He was wonderful about it. Don't put up with any less.

I decided not to talk about how my week went and just breezily chatted about the weekend:

Hi Ron, nice to hear from you. I recently lost my grandmother, so for now I'm not doing anything too exciting. I'll probably hang out with friends in the neighborhood (upper west side) and maybe go to the farmers market on Sunday. I love apples that come from an orchard, not the supermarket. Are you flying off anywhere? ;)

We'll see how he responds.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

What should I write to Dr. Pilot?

So eHarmony has introduced me to a number of men. I've been corresponding with several. But there's only one I'm really interested in: Dr. Pilot.

I don't know what kind of doctor he is, but I do know what he's passionate about, because eHarmony asks you to write "the one thing I'm most passionate about":

I'm very passionate about flying...I've had my private pilot's license for over 7 years and it is one of the most challenging, adventurous, and rewarding things I've ever done - the fulfillment of a childhood dream and one of the prime motivating factors for success in my career.

In case you're curious, in response to the same, Ayelet wrote:

I love spending time with my nieces and nephews, doing nails (just the nieces), talking about their problems, sharing movies and other things I love with them. 

A little more about Dr. Pilot (the bolded phrases are the eHarmony prompts):

The most influential person in my life has been: Difficult question, but the first people that come to mind are my AP chemistry teacher in high school and my composition 101 professor in college. Both of them believed in me at a time when I didn't believe in myself, and taught me a lot about what I am capable of and opened my mind to new pathways of thought.

The three things which I am most thankful for:
  • My family.
  • My education.
  • My friends.
The things I can't live without are:
  • Love, sex, and affection.
  • Constantly learning new things.
  • My family and friends.
  • Finding new adventures.
  • Flying small aircraft.
I typically spend my leisure time: Spend time with my family and friends, work out, fly airplanes, ride my motorcycle.

An affectionate, in-shape physician pilot who rides a motorcycle. Am I crazy for reaching out to him? He's obviously out of my league. But I loved riding on the back of my college boyfriend's motorcycle. ("Boyfriend" is probably too strong a word -- he wasn't Jewish, so we were supposed to be just hanging out.) And I love sex and affection. And he sounds fun. Also, in response to the prompt "The most important thing I am looking for in a person is" he wrote:

Someone who is intelligent, affectionate and loving, passionate and sensual, and supportive.

I certainly meet those criteria. Hell, I excel those criteria. So I initiated what eHarmony calls "guided communication": first five multiple-choice questions chosen from a list of questions created by the site, then a list of "must haves and can't stands" also chosen from a list of questions created by the site, followed by three open-ended questions (you can choose your own or select from a list of questions created by the site).

If you make it through all this testing (or if you skip the testing), you start actually communicating directly. We got through the whole process, so I sent him this easy-breezy email:

Hi Dr. P,

Here we go, actually writing our own material. I think it's very cool you're a pilot. When I went to Cape Cod a few years ago, I got to fly next to the pilot in a very small plane, and the view was unbelievable. Of course, you'd believe it because you see it every time you take off.

So how would you fly me to the moon? ;)

Best, Ayelet

He wrote back:

Hi Ayelet, it has been nice getting to know you so far and I'm happy we're able to finally write our own material :) So, how has your week been? What are your plans for the weekend? Funny that you talk about Cape Cod, I've flown there several times - I love that whole area, one of my favorite destinations during the summer months! I think it would be fun to fly you to the moon! :) Alas, I don't think my little plane would make it there, but going flying on a clear night in the light of the full moon makes you feel like you can reach out and touch it!

Dr. P

Oy. How was the week? Dreadful. My grandmother died, and I'm unemployed, so I've been going on interviews. Weekend plans? Not a one. So what the heck do I write to him??
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Nothing to say

Sounds strange that a blogger with so much crap happening in her life would have nothing to say. But this grief, this whole process feels too private to write about. Also, much of it involves my family, and none of them want to be blogged.

The non-private stuff? Two job interviews, one today, one tomorrow. Increase in COBRA premiums. eHarmony conversations. I just don't feel like blogging. Maybe I'm done.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Shalom, Grandma

My grandmother passed away this morning. I found out after going on what I think was a very good job interview. I'm going home for the funeral and will be offline for a while.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Pasta therapy

Last night my mother called to tell me my grandmother is dying. She's been dying in slow motion for years, but apparently the end is now close. Neither mom nor I think it makes sense for me to go see Grandma; she won't recognize me.

I thought I was okay. But I wasn't. And I scared a bunch of friends with some twitter posts:

Grandma is dying. I'm sad we're losing her, sadder that her last years were so painful- physically & emotionally. Dementia is a cruel thief.

I don't ever want to be old, alone, in pain, and not in my right mind. 3 of my 4 grandparents died in slow motion from dementia.

William Styron suffered horribly during his last 6 years.

Saw my psychiatrist 2nite. More convinced than ever that I can choose my expiration date. Old, alone, miserable -- taking the easy way out.

I want to be clear: my psychiatrist is not on board with my little "expiration date" plan. I just talked about it during the session.

2 be clear: Not going 2 do any harm to self now or soon. Just need an escape valve. Have 2 believe I don't have 2 be in pain indefinitely.

It helps to vent like this. To imagine a real end to the pain. It's a relief.

After all that, I was in a serious funk. What helped get me out of it was a phone call with a FB friend who, coincidentally, works for the university of which The Bad Place is a part. On a whim, I called him and told him about what happened to me there. He was very nice about it. He wasn't surprised -- he's heard other stories like that. He didn't think I deserved it. And he thinks that significant changes have been made so shit like that won't happen again. He really cheered me up.

And then I was ravenous. I wanted Italian food. Actually, I wanted to order Italian food, but I'm trying to be frugal, so I went to the supermarket and got pasta sauce, whole wheat spaghetti, and watermelon.

I cooked the entire 16-ounce box of pasta.

I poured an entire jar of mushroom garlic marinara sauce on it.

I ate the whole thing.

That's kind of a binge. It wasn't even comfortable -- my stomach felt distended. But you know what? I woke up this morning in a fantastic mood, and I've been in a great mood all day. Went to therapy, which was fabulous. Got a Brazilian Keratin treatment (purchased before I was fired), which was fabulous. Learned that when I color my own hair, I'm neglecting the back of my head; fortunately that's only noticeable when you pick up sections of my hair to flat-iron it. Walked more than 40 blocks to two 99-cent stores looking for discounted hair color, which I could not find. I have two weeks, since I can't do anything to the hair until the keratin fully sets.

Then I came home and tried on my second-interview suit, and it no longer fits. Not even with a foundation garment. I have one interview suit. And I have an interview tomorrow, and an interview next week. One interviewer called this morning before therapy, the other emailed me this afternoon.

I also heard that the program I interviewed for last week is now on hold because the New York State Office of Mental Health is appealing some Medicaid decision. At least it wasn't my fault....

But even so, I'm in a good mood. Even though I'm not getting much eHarmony play (after spending $148 for a 3-month membership). Even though I'm fat. Even though I'm single. Even though I'm unemployed.

It could be the sunshine, which has lasted for several days this week; last week was dark and rainy. (I'm also happy about the sunshine because I can't get my hair wet for 72 hours.)

Or it could be the whole-wheat pasta. I don't know. But my mindfulness-based therapist is teaching me to live more in the present, enjoy just being without planning or worrying. So right now I'm happy, and that's a good thing.

I also had an interesting conversation with Fred yesterday. He has stopped pushing the Landmark Forum and came up with a good suggestion: do something I enjoy and find interesting. So I'm going to join Toastmasters. I like public speaking, I'm good at it, and they do improv exercises sometimes, which are always fun. I'd love to do some acting but I don't want to commit to a full production, and NYC commuity theater standards are probably very high anyway.

CY also does Toastmasters. I emailed him to ask if he was cool with me joining his group (it meets a block from my apartment). He was so cool with it, he invited me to watch him compete tomorrow night. I have to say, I'm mighty curious to see how he speaks without stuttering. I guess we're going to be friends, which is good. I'm usually not friends with my exes, but in this case, we're just so incompatible that I can't feel offended he doesn't want to be with me. 'Cause I don't want to be with him either. So we're cool.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"