Friday, August 26, 2011

Will I feel some closure now?

Today as I raced home from work and worried about how I'd stock up for the hurricane in case all the supermarkets were picked clean, I fantasized that Ivan the Terrible would call me with concerns for my safety. I thought about what I'd say to him if he did. And I decided to engage in the therapeutic exercise of  writing him a letter I won't send, in hopes that it would purge me of some of my lingering anger and bitterness.

Ivan, I know your mother thinks I’m a defective burden, but I took care of myself for 40 years before you came back into my life, and after you left I went right back to taking care of myself. I never would have been hospitalized again if you hadn’t been such a craven coward. After they closed my program, I needed you. I deserved your support, and you abandoned me. Even after you talked to Joey and he reassured you that Malchick 1’s reaction was normal. Now I have to go through life with two hospitalizations on my record instead of one. 

You said you’d never seen M1 bury his face in a cushion and refuse to speak, which he did after you broached the topic of us getting married. But I saw that happen a few weeks after my hospitalization, when you had to take him to speech therapy and he didn’t want to go. What else were you lying to me about? 

I know that you didn’t suddenly decide you had to dump me because you suddenly realized you didn’t want to be married. I know your parents sat you down, gave you that lie, and sent you over to break up with me. But I didn’t fight it. Because if you didn’t want to be with me, I didn’t want to be with you. 

You deserve all the misery I caused in your life by breaking up with you in college, and for all those years you were wretchedly in love with me. You deserve all the misery Mara caused you during your marriage, divorce, and thereafter. You’re damn lucky I don’t team up with her to make your life truly unendurable. That is what you deserve. But the kids don’t deserve the ramifications, and for all your many failings, you’re probably a better parent than Mara. 

You’re still a pathetic excuse for a boyfriend/life partner, and I truly hope that means you never find anyone else to be happy with. Because nobody else could make you as happy as I could have. 

You didn’t need to tell me in person why you couldn’t be my friend with benefits. I should never have let you into my apartment that night. And you still have my lawn chair and my George Foreman Grill, you cowardly asshole. 

I don’t hope you dance. I don’t wish you love. I hope you're stuck in that job you hate for decades. I believe you deserve to be miserable and lonely for the rest of your life. And I truly hope you will be -- Ayelet 

Have to say, I don't feel much better.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Another day, another poem

Yesterday was agency-wide orientation for all new employees. All day. ALL DAY. My clinic program is part of a major NYC hospital, so we learned about a lot of stuff that's not too relevant to my job (don't use a floor polisher near the MRI, or it will get sucked right in), and some stuff that is relevant: don't even think about back-dating your documentation, because that will get you fired. (At my last job, we back-dated as a matter of course; it was pretty much mandatory.)

On my lunch break I went to DSW and bought a pair of comfortable, closed-toe black shoes I can wear during the summer without feeling like my feet are being suffocated. Which I wore today, going to yet another clinic in the morning and a training session in the afternoon.

My mood was up and down all day. I'm still adjusting to waking up at 5:30 am and heading out by 6:10. The social worker at the clinic I visited, Sad Sarah, has gotten used to not having her own office, but she still doesn't like it. She is unashamed to refuse to facilitate groups, since doing the documentation without her own computer is difficult.

"I do what I can," she said. "I'm at this job because I need the health benefits."

That was a little demoralizing. I was kind of hoping I'd love this job. Also, I'm having trouble not worrying about how this job will enable me to get my LCSW. It has to, somehow. I can't imagine that I would be deceived by two employers in a row. At least I hope I won't be.

So after a morning spent with Sad Sarah, I was feeling very sad. At first I struggled with it. I didn't want to be sad. I was worried what being sad meant -- am I getting depressed? Is my sleep too disorganized? Why was I so sad -- what was really bothering me? I wasn't sure.

When you're experiencing strong emotion, you're not always rational enough to do the CBT work needed to get to the bottom of your feelings. That's when you need to switch to mindfulness. Become aware of the sadness. Try to list your thoughts and feelings without judging them or yourself. Get in touch with physical sensations. Breathe.

So I did that for a while. During the afternoon I went shoe shopping at another DSW and got another pair of comfortable closed-toe black shoes. Went to the training, which was nice because I got to see some of the social workers and counselors I met last week. Walking to the subway station, I decided to check out a street fruit stand. And next to the stand was a woman I haven't seen since 2005. One of the few people I actually liked from the job I had back then. Small world!

"Are you on Facebook?" she asked. Of course! "Friend me when you get home!" Done. And the strawberries were $1/pound. I've eaten two pounds already.

On the subway ride home I started thinking about Malchick 1 and Malchick 2 again. Not sure why.  Sometimes I think about Ivan the Terrible after bad dates or when I'm just feeling lonely, and when I think of him I think of them. But this time I was thinking more of them. And... I wrote a poem. It doesn't have a title yet.

Memories and longings 
of the sons I almost had, 
I miss them, I miss them 
more than I miss their dad. 

Sweet small earnest faces, 
eager bright blue eyes. 
Cooking up a pot roast 
to suit choosy appetites. 

Reading and explaining, 
teaching and learning, 
memories of time with them 
now just leave me yearning. 

The heart stores its own memories, 
small voices call my name. 
Never will I see them more, 
I'll never feel the same.

Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, August 22, 2011

Jacob da Shlepper

When Jacob and I were making plans to meet, he tried to convince me to meet during the week. But I'm still too drained after starting my day at 6:45 a.m. Somewhat reluctantly, he agreed to meet me on a Sunday.

"I'll take the train in from Jersey and take a subway from Penn Station," he said. Fine. Whatever.

I took some care with my appearance, even though I wore a t-shirt and casual skirt. Because I wanted to look nice. I told him I'd be wearing red, so I did. Red skirt, red lipstick, mascara, nice earrings, etc.

While browsing near the entrance of Barnes & Noble, I noticed a chubby shlepper in a Yankees cap walk in. I looked down, kind of hoping he wasn't my date. My phone rang, I turned, and there he was. Unshaven. Carrying a very large piece of luggage -- looked like the offspring of a backpack and a duffel bag. His hair -- what there was of it -- was disheveled under the cap.

I realize he just got off the train and the subway. But jeez Louise, he couldn't SHAVE? That's the first impression you want to make? Trust me, he's no Don Johnson. Scruff wasn't a good look for him. Although the portion of his facial skin not covered with stubble looked somewhat pitted and cratered, so maybe he thought, "Better stubble than acne."

I'll grant I'm not looking my hottttttest these days. When Jacob entered the store, I was the only person in there wearing red, and he still made that phone call -- so I'm assuming he wasn't thrilled with the way I look either. But at least I took some care to look nice.

Still, I've been told I'm too judgmental, so I set his looks aside and waited for him to wow me with his personality.

Which he did. Not in a good way.

I hate being interrupted. Hate it, hate it, hate it. And he's an interrupter. Not just an interrupter -- he's a know-it-all interrupter. We started paging through coffee-table books. One of them juxtaposed photos of Central Park from decades (or more than a century) ago with modern photos. He began pontificating about what was shown in the photos. And frequently, he was wrong.

At first I tried correcting him -- when I could get a word in -- but then I realized that was pointless. Men do not like being told they're wrong, and probably won't believe you without proof. So I stopped arguing.

We picked up a book showing different Marvel comic characters, including Spider-Man -- Jacob's childhood hero.

"I always wanted to be Spider-Man," he said.

"Are you going to see 'Turn Out the Dark'?" I asked.

"No," he said.

"Because of the bad advance notices?" I asked.

"No, it's not that. Sephardim don't really go to live music performances."

This was news to me. "Why not?" I asked.

"Because of the churban," he said. I.e., the destruction of the Temple.

"Really?" I asked. "What about the symphony, or the opera?"

"Nope," he said.

That seems awfully constraining. I know other Sephardim, and I'd never heard that they didn't go to live music performances. Another point against JdS.

Jacob suggested we get a drink in the Starbucks. I agreed, since my knees were already starting to ache from standing around waiting for him and then with him flipping through books.

"I don't know about the hechsher," he said, "so I'll just get an iced tea." I don't keep chalav yisrael, and I'm not eager to start. I got a decaf iced latte.

We sat and chatted. It wasn't terrible. He talked about his family and his studies in a yeshiva in Israel.

"I spent one Shabbat in Manhattan, and it wasn't really like Shabbat," he said. "You go to shul, and then when you go outside it's business as usual. In Jerusalem, in the Old City, you go outside and you know it's Shabbat."

"What about in Brooklyn?" I asked. "It's business as usual there too."

"Yeah, but there I'm with my family," he said. "You know, I don't really like being anywhere except Brooklyn, New Jersey, and Israel."

"You don't like to travel?" I asked.

"I know girls always say, 'Oh, I love to travel!'" he declared, in a mocking falsetto. "But I don't really want to go anywhere."

"Not Paris?" I asked. I don't languish dreaming of Paris, but I would like to see the Louvre and Versailles.

He grimaced and snorted derisively. "Maybe some parts of Italy, like where the Sephardim lived. And I know the food's good there. And Alaska, because I hear it's really beautiful."

"I went to Alaska a few years ago," I said, wondering when he was going to ask me a question about myself. Thought this was a good opening.

Apparently not "But otherwise -- nah, there's nowhere else I really want to go," he said.

You can take the boy out of Brooklyn... I tried to discuss some other things with him, but thinking about the conversation now, I realize there wasn't much discussion. He stated how things were supposed to be, and if they weren't, well, they should be.

I finally told him I needed to get home, and he offered to walk me. I don't live very far from Barnes & Noble. But he was huffing and puffing beside me all the way.

Nobody is perfect. I'm definitely not perfect. But is this all that's left for me? A man who doesn't listen, won't travel, and apparently can't shave on the weekends?

Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Jacob da Syrian

Starting work at 6:45 am is a HUGE adjustment. On top of starting a new job, which is always exhausting -- more so in this case because I have a two-week orientation period, and I spend every day at a different location before finally starting at "my" clinic. I've been hearing a lot about "my" clinic. Apparently it's going to be a very challenging task, requiring much finesse and skillful people handling.

I get home completely spent and slump in front of the computer, catching up on email. Today I was too exhausted even to do my elbow exercises, which require less exertion than the knee exercises. If I go on Facebook, where my friends can IM me, I can't really unwind and relax.

When Jacob da Syrian called, I was happy to talk to him for a little while -- about 45 minutes -- but then begged off so I could get ready for bed. This is a "Rules" tactic: don't spend too much time on the phone to induce him to make plans to see you in person. Which we did, after reaching a compromise. He wanted to meet during the week after work, when he's in Brooklyn. I didn't think I'd make a good impression on a weeknight -- not until I get used to this schedule -- and asked if we could meet on Sunday. But on weekends he's in New Jersey.

"Couldn't you come home a little earlier?" I asked. He agreed. So we're going to hang out at Barnes & Noble on Sunday. I'm pretty sure he's bald, because he said he'd be wearing a Yankees cap. And jeans. So it's casual. Which is fine. I told him I'd probably be wearing red.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, August 14, 2011

"How do you NOT have a boyfriend, Ayelet?"

Liora asked me that last night. "You're beautiful, sexy, and smart!" she added. We were celebrating her birthday at a nice but loud Upper East Side bar. The music was awesome, and thanks to "Glee" I recognized most of it.

Liora looked adorable, and she was so sweet to compliment me like that. But I didn't have a good answer for her. Before I went to the party I sent out some positive energy to the universe, instructing the law of attraction to send me attractive men. Unfortunately, the universe didn't pay attention. The most attractive man there -- a convert named Lucas -- didn't really talk to me. First I tried speaking to him, but a large, aggressive woman came over and totally cock-blocked me. (I don't know the feminine equivalent.)

I walked away and complained to an acquaintance of mine, Tessie, who's also somewhat rotund. "Let's go over and talk to him," she suggested. I thought that was a great idea -- after all, I'm beautiful, sexy, and smart, and she... isn't. So we did -- and he started chatting with her. I guess she's just better at small talk. Disgruntled, I walked away after a few minutes to talk to my friend ET (who agreed with Liora that I looked beautiful that night). Tessie walked over to me in a bit.

"She did the same thing to me! Walked right over and started talking like I wasn't even there," she said. We sighed. "Do you know anyone else here?" she asked.

"I know that guy," I said, pointing, "but I don't like him." She thought that was hilarious.

Romantically, it was a disappointing night. But I learned a little more about Jacob da Syrian from Ikey Abadi, who was also there. Apparently Jacob is a rabbi and very nice, serious about getting married, average looking and not overly overweight. Promising, I suppose.

In other news, two of my emergency backup references came through and emailed recommendations to HR. So I start work on Monday.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Friday, August 12, 2011

Inching slowly toward employment

This morning I went to have my TB test read and from there went to the HR department. Where I found out that neither of my references -- both of whom volunteered to provide me a recommendation when I lost my job -- had emailed in a letter of recommendation. So I'm kind of freaking out. I asked them both more than a week ago, and neither even told me they weren't going to bother. I should have gotten letters from them when I left my last job. Shoulda, woulda, coulda.

I did establish that I can get a reference from my internships, which is a relief because there's no other supervisor at my former employer who would say anything good about me. But I'm leaving email and voicemail messages without actually talking to anyone, and it's got me on edge. I also feel really bad about asking them to send in a recommendation today. I might be able to get a week or two grace period from my new employer, but then I'll also be nervous and on edge waiting for them to roll in.

But waiting in my inbox was a pleasant surprise -- the email address that my friend set me up with contacted me:

Our mutual friend hasn't told me much except for an email that we're looking for similar....I imagine he meant similar life views and not that you're looking for a cute girl, bcs if you are looking for that, well, you'd really be disappointed, lol 

My name is Jacob my cell number is 917-xxx-xxxx 
During the summer I'm in NJ for the weekends and usually in Bklyn for weekdays 
Shabbat Shalom Ayelet

It was nice of him to give me his phone number, but I want him to call me.

Hi Jacob, nice to hear from you. I'm not looking for a cute girl, so maybe we should talk ;) 212-xxx-xxxx shabbat shalom umevorach, Ayelet

Maybe I'll actually go on a date one of these days. All I know is that he's probably Syrian (inferred from his being in Brooklyn during the week and NJ on the weekends). Which is fine. Syrians like me.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, August 11, 2011

... of COURSE he didn't respond

If you know me at all, you know I can never leave well enough alone. I was resolved to do NOTHING about yesterday's fairly random message suggesting I get to know an email. That resolution lasted about as long as the plan I made on New Year's Eve to lose a lot of weight. But I didn't want to be too pushy or obvious. So I just hit "reply all" and typed:

thanks so much for thinking of me, [friend who sent original email] -- I look forward to meeting your friend :)

And... nothing.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Well, that's... random

Today I went for my second TB test, which killed about 1.5 hours. I left a message with one of my references to ask if she'd had a chance to email in a recommendation, which she needs to do before Friday. And I got this email, from someone I only know through Facebook:

Hey guys; just looked up your emails and thought you might be looking for the same thing... start up a convo... exchange info- ttyl. Good luck!

It was addressed to me and someone else. I have no idea who, because it's only an email address. I Googled it but there were no results. So I have no idea who this guy is.

Normally I'd rush to contact the other email address, tell him something about me and see if he was interested in reciprocating, but I think I should wait to see if he contacts me. If he doesn't, I doubt me contacting him will lead anywhere.

But it's a nice example of the law of attraction dropping a man into my lap. Except I haven't been very positive lately. I've been seeing so many men my age chasing younger women, it's been demoralizing. I must have had some leftover positive energy bounce from previous weeks.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

I am NOT forgotten!!!!

Tisha b'Av was rainy and cool this year. I didn't fast completely, but I ate a whole lot less than I wanted to. You would think that a woman who needs to lose a good 20 pounds wouldn't even notice skipping a few meals, but I was wiped out all day. 

Then I got an email from Sylvia the Shadchanit:

Subject: You are NOT forgotten!!!! 

I have NOT forgotten you. It has been hectic for me in Israel and I just returned after a week in St. Petersburg, Russia where my husband had a conference and I went sightseeing :-) . We returned right before tisha B'Av and now we are packing to go to the Galil with our kids tomorrow, IY"H. I sent an email to Netanel and am waiting to hear from him. As soon as I do, and I have a strong feeling it will be a positive email, I will certainly get back to you. Sorry for the delays. Life has a habit of getting in the way of our good intentions. Hope you had an easy fast. "Talk" to you soon. 

That was nice to see.

Thanks! :) Hope your fast was easy as well. I am sure St. Petersburg was fascinating, hope you were able to visit the Hermitage. Enjoy the Galil! 

I'm not sure how optimistic I'm going to be, though. In one of my Facebook singles groups, the 40something men leapfrog over each other to hit on women in their 20s and 30s, and ignore women my age. Like 44-year-old Superficial Sammy, whom I was silly enough to message:

hey, saw your post in the group -- where are you located? I'm in Manhattan 

SS responded:

Wesley Hills 

Where the heck is Wesley Hills? I asked, and he responded:

far far away lol 
I am dating someone at the moment off and on 

Which explains why SS is sniffing around all the women in their 30s who post in the group.

I know I shouldn't care, but it's irritating me. Although I decided to adopt a new mantra: every time I see an online profile of a man in his 40s (or 50s) seeking a woman in her 30s, I will say, "Thank you for removing yourself from the gene pool."
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, August 07, 2011

The consequences of bailing on a friend

Last night I didn't show up for plans I made with a friend. Actually, she had posted that she and a friend were going to a comedy show, and then I asked to be included, and then I didn't show up. She called me, worried, and I said I'd fallen asleep and woken up too late to go. So today I sent her a brief apology:

I'm sorry I missed the evening. I should have called you when I woke up. I'm so glad you had a great time.

She responded:

Celia and I were worried that you got lost since you said you weren't good with directions. We were very dissappointed that you didn't come and Judy really wanted to meet you. Yes, you should have called when you woke up. Why didn't you?

They set 3 spots for us right in the very front and center. You would have gotten a free mixed drink as well and they were quite good. I had to apologize to them 5 minutes before the show and tell them you weren't coming when Matt went out of his way to do this for me.

I got you free tickets to a show that normally costs 15 bucks. I was pissed that you didn't show. I think it's worse when a girlfriend stands you up than a guy cause you expect more from your own friend.

If Celia didn't show I would have been all alone and even more pissed. When I have plans with a girlfriend I expect them to let me know if they cannot make it. If it were just the two of us and you didn't show, I would have been more pissed but yes, Celia and I had an awesome time and you missed out on a great evening.

I don't know what to do or say at this point. She doesn't know I have bipolar disorder, and I don't know if I want to tell her.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Only but so much I can do in a day

I had such ambitious plans. Lunchtime potluck in the park. Late afternoon games and snacks at a friend's apartment. A comedy performance tonight. But after lunch, I went home and couldn't leave.

The potluck was lovely, very low-key. My good friend ET was there, and reassured me that I'm still incredibly hot.

"Do I look like I've gained weight?" I asked.

ET is very literal. "Stand up," he said. I stood. He surveyed me with a critical eye. "You're wearing a very loose dress," he mused, "so it's difficult to determine. Your waist looks the same, but the rest of the dress is very flowy, so I can't really tell about this area," he continued, waving his hand to indicate my hips and thighs. "Also, it's not black." I was wearing a beautiful floral dress. I like bright colors, and patterns are good to conceal bulges.

"It's not black?" I asked.

"Most people wear black when they're trying to look thinner," ET said. "I know that when I'm up to 160 from 152 I like to wear black."

"It doesn't work, though," I said. "Look at her." I pointed at a girl I really don't like, who was squeezed into a black top like a lumpy sausage, perhaps one made by someone missing a few fingers.

"Yeah, some girls at this picnic are fat," said ET, "but you're definitely not. Could you lose a few pounds? Maybe, but you don't need to." There's a reason I keep him around.

I also hung out with a very sweet acquaintance, Liora. I haven't really spoken to her very much over the years, but she reads my Facebook status updates, so she's pretty current on my life. She called me "a raven-haired beauty," which I thought was adorable. She also, in the nicest possible way, advised me to touch up my roots more frequently so that my hair will look as young as my "flawless skin" (again, her words -- I really need a facial, because I packed on pounds of coverup). So I think she's a keeper.

I hung out with some other cool friends as well and learned that New Zealand is much more beautiful than Australia. I heard this from an Australian, so I'm inclined to trust. There weren't any interesting guys there -- I called them losers, ET was more charitable and labeled them weirdos. Then I went home and thought I'd wash up a bit and go to the late afternoon party. But I got nervous. Anxious. Didn't want to go.

"That's fine," I thought. "I'll relax for a while and then go to the Village to meet my friends for the comedy event." But here I am, frozen at home. I don't want to get dressed and go on the subway by myself. Even though I'm sure I'd enjoy the event -- even though it's free and people are expecting me. I just can't go.

I know I need to get out there and meet people and have fun, not sit at home alone all the time. But even now, when I'm feeling better and I'm almost employed, I'm anxious, and being around people is still very draining. Could be because I'm still not officially employed and I'm nervous that my references won't come through for me. One of them was leery of being labeled my supervisor because I never reported to him directly, even though he's the assistant clinical director and I did seek him out for guidance numerous times. The other is just difficult to contact, because she doesn't answer email or phone messages. I don't want to stalk her, but I do need her to email in her recommendation before next Friday. I also don't know if my urine will test positive for Vitamin K, although since I showed my prescription to the doctor yesterday, it shouldn't really matter. But I'm unsettled, and that leaves me anxious and loath to go hang out with people. I'd have to wear the mask, and that in itself exhausts me.

I worry that I'm getting worse as I get older. Because there was nothing stressful about the picnic -- but apparently it's all I could accomplish today.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Friday, August 05, 2011

An email I don't want to answer

Hi Ayelet,So glad to read from you once more,I guess with little time we would learn more about each other.Good to know that you are a Social Worker.So what do you do?Today I went to get some materials I would be needing for my presentation.I need to submit with the power point by Monday.For an up coming Project Awards.I work with the Layton Construction company as a Freelance Engineer.I also like Traveling,My Job Usually takes me every where on Project Bases.Like Asia,Middle East and Europe.I also enjoy movies as well.My Father told me that I was just three When we moved down to the States.I was still a Kid and I never knew what was happening.Tell me a little about you?Do you have kids?Are you in any relationship?Do you have siblings?Do you work all through the week.I hope we can get to chat during the weekends.Looking forward to read from you soonest.Take care and have a lovely day.

I looked at his profile again and realized that he went to college in Belgium. So he speaks numerous languages, and I can't label him undereducated. But there's something weird about this email.

My Father told me that I was just three When we moved down to the States.I was still a Kid and I never knew what was happening.

But his profile says he graduated from high school in Colorado. And he only has three friends. I can imagine not having hundreds, but only three? I don't know, it's just not adding up, and I don't want to write back to him.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, August 04, 2011

What I really WANT to say to Adam Hashakran

Remember the matchmaker who curbsided me and tried to set me up with a stalker dentist? I saw him join a Facebook group recently and decided to email him, since we hadn't communicated in two years:

I never heard from you regarding any potential matches.

Looking at that now, it does seem a little abrupt. He responded:

Hi. I actually make a marriage via (kiruv center) about six months ago. I haven't been doing MM-ing for a year now, as I teach Yiddish conversation on Monday nights...do you know Ziva Kramer? She is a matchmaker who gives a very popular relationships class on Monday nights...will resume after the summer. Regards.

Asshole. Why tell me about a successful marriage you made and then say you've stopped making matches? This is what I wanted to send:

Then perhaps (kiruv center) should refund the $10 I paid. Or I should send you a bill for the 30-minute consultation on how to deal with your difficult teenager. Ziva Kramer set me up with men who weren't what I was looking for, and I didn't find out until I was actually on the date with them.

But what would it get me? Nothing. It's not worth it. I just have to let it go. And give up on matchmakers. Well, at least the matchmakers you have to pay for. Still waiting to hear from Sylvia if Netanel is interested.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thanks, JAN

On Tuesday, when I still hadn't heard back from the Job Accommodation Network, I called their hotline for guidance. I finally got an email response today:

Hi Aeylet,

Thank you for contacting the Job Accommodation Network (JAN). JAN provides technical assistance on job accommodations, the employment provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and entrepreneurship for people with disabilities. Note that JAN is not a legal service and does not provide legal assistance or advice.

It's legal under the ADA for the employer to test for illegal drugs, so you might need to verify that you are not illegally using drugs, but unless the employer has a valid business reason, the employer would violate the ADA by rescinding a job offer based on the use of legally prescribed medication.


An employer may conduct tests to detect illegal use of drugs. The ADA does not prohibit, require, or encourage drug tests. Drug tests are not considered medical examinations, and an applicant can be required to take a drug test before a conditional offer of employment has been made. An employee also can be required to take a drug test, whether or not such a test is job-related and necessary for the business.

However, tests for illegal use of drugs also may reveal the presence of lawfully-used drugs. If a person is excluded from a job because the employer erroneously "regarded" him/her to be an addict currently using drugs illegally when a drug test revealed the presence of a lawfully prescribed drug, the employer would be liable under the ADA. To avoid such potential liability, the employer would have to determine whether the individual was using a legally prescribed drug. Because the employer may not ask what prescription drugs an individual is taking before making a conditional job offer, one way to avoid liability is to conduct drug tests after making an offer, even though such tests may be given at anytime under the ADA. Since applicants who test positive for illegal drugs are not covered by the ADA, an employer can withdraw an offer of employment on the basis of illegal drug use.

If the results of a drug test indicate the presence of a lawfully prescribed drug, such information must be kept confidential, in the same way as any medical record. If the results reveal information about a disability in addition to information about drug use, the disability-related information is to be treated as a confidential medical record.

I hope this is helpful. Feel free to contact JAN (AskJAN.org) in the future if you have additional questions related to accommodations. Thank you for using our service.

Not much of that is relevant to my question. I wrote back:

Thank you for your response, but I did not ask about drug testing per se. I asked if the employer is allowed to ask me about my psychiatric history during a pre-employment physical. I called the JAN hotline and was told employers may so, but they can't rescind an offer of employment based on that disclosure. When I went for my physical yesterday, the doctor said I would need a letter from my psychiatrist stating that I am fit for work. He made a point of telling me that they ask everyone with a psychiatric history for this, because a few years ago, two residents and an attending committed suicide. As long as they ask everyone for it, they're allowed to ask.

Unfortunately, my psychiatrist is on vacation for the next few weeks, but the doctor said all I have to do is bring my medication bottles when I go back to have my TB test read. He will probably ask me a few questions to make sure I have no current suicidal or homicidal ideation. I have a prescription for Klonopin, and I know the toxicology results might show positive for benzodiazepines, so I'm bringing that bottle in along with my lithium and antidepressants.

I appreciate the work your organization does. It definitely set my mind more at ease.

This time the response came more quickly:

Oh sorry about that! I read your question wrong. I hope you are able to work things out and keep the job. If not, please don't hesitate to contact us for additional information.

I sure will. Tomorrow I go back for the TB test reading, and hopefully the doctor will grant me psychiatric clearance.

A dear friend of mine (she knows who she is) told me she was hospitalized and attended intensive outpatient treatment at a program headed by a woman who has bipolar disorder. This woman was loved and respected by her patients, employees, and peers. I would love to be that open about my diagnosis. Maybe some day I'll be able to.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Ayelet hears from a Construction Worker

I'm in several singles groups on Facebook. Rarely do I hear anything from the men in these groups. And when I do, it's usually not from a man I'd consider interesting.

8/2/11: Hi Ayelet

I guess you must be having a wonderful start of the new month. I found your page on Frum Matchmaker. I really wish we get to be friends or maybe know each other more better. Looking forward to read from you soonest. Have a lovely day. Samuel

My friend Netanel told me not to judge men by their emails or online dating profiles "because straight men don't know how to write." Okay, fine, I won't judge. I looked at his profile, which says he was born in Madrid. That means English isn't his first language, but it seems to be better than my Spanish.

8/3/11: Hi Samuel, thanks for writing. I didn't know there were frum Jews in Spain! Have a great day, Ayelet

I'm really not interested in moving to Madrid, but for the right man...

8/4/11: Hi There

So glad to read from you, I really wish we get to be friends or maybe know each other more better. I guess with good communication we would get to learn more about our selfs in no time. I was originally born In Spain but right now I live in the States. We moved to the States when I was still a Kid. My Father was from Madrid Spain. I live in Georgia. What about you? Tell me a little about your self. By the way you look so amazing with a very pretty smile. Looking forward to read from you soonest. Take care and have a lovely day.

He grew up in the US? Sigh. He didn't go to college, and he's a construction worker. If he grew up in the States and this is how he writes... not auspicious. Even if he's a straight man. Why don't intelligent men ever think I'm amazing with a pretty smile?

8/5/11: Well, I'm a social worker. I grew up in (upstate) NY but moved to NYC after I graduated college. I like museums, books, movies, traveling. How old were you when you moved to the US?

I'll see how he responds, but I'm not optimistic. At least my smile is working for some men. But again, I want the law of attraction to bring me the man I'm going to love, admire, and respect. I don't think this is that man.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"