Monday, October 28, 2013

Do something. SOMETHING. Like, NOW.

There aren’t a lot of Jews that keep kosher on OKCupid, and so far, kashrut is just about my own Jewish practice. I can’t seem to abandon it completely. This doesn’t mean I don’t eat in Burger King – I just limit myself to the fish sandwich and onion rings. I went to the famously kosher-style Ben’s Deli last week and felt guilty for eating a few bites of my date’s “deli omelet” (made with pastrami and corned beef). Especially since the date turned out to be a total douche, but that’s another disappointment I don’t feel like documenting.

I’m writing about a guy on OKCupid who needs to do something already. He visited my profile several times but didn’t contact me – perhaps because he’s somewhat of a rotund fellow. Not really my preference, but he seemed nice, so I rated him four stars.

OKCupid has this thing where if you rate each other highly, they notify both of you. Finally, after weeks of loitering, he sent me a message:

Just a T-shirt and body lotion? Wow!

(I write on my profile that I can dress to the nines but prefer lounging at home wearing only a t-shirt and body lotion. Which might be why so many men in their 20s and early 30s have been writing me.) I responded:

I like being comfortable at home :)

I thought that would open up some kind of conversation, but not so much.

Hence the lotion, I assume. ;)

Um, duh, yeah. I’m still waiting for him to go on to something more substantive.

Carry it in every purse I own, plus a few bottles in the apartment. I’m a hedonist ;)

That was probably a mistake. If I want to be taken seriously, I shouldn’t sexualize every conversation I have with men. And it did me no good.

Is anyone against hedon?

Technically not a word, but I’m not going to go Grammar Gestapo on him.


Because I seriously do not understand triathletes. Somebody dies in every triathlon that is held, and yet it’s still legal. But he had a theory.

I think they're in it for the endorphin rush. Plus, some chicks dig triathletes...

Why aren’t you asking me more substantive questions about myself???

True, forgot about endorphins.

Waiting for him to take the lead isn’t getting me anywhere, because all he said was:

Yeah. Never did anything for me.

I left it there for three days. And decided to give him (and myself) another chance to actually start talking:

How was your weekend?

He was forthcoming, at first:

Not the most exciting... But I did have some good meals, took some good walks, spent some quality time with my younger daughter and my older sister and... Wait for it... Bought some new jeans. :)
I hope yours was more exciting than mine! :)

I’m going to say just enough to get him to say more:

Not more exciting, but relaxing.

Nope, still didn’t work.

Buying the jeans was pretty relaxing. Not that it's a competition...

That’s his last word. That’s where I left it. Did I spoil things by mentioning the h-word? What is wrong with men – why can’t they just talk to women?

Another problem popped up for me today. An alleged 32-year-old with washboard abs who calls himself something like “hotdog246.”

hello sweet how are you

Why would a man in terrific shape 11 years my junior be interested in me? Does he think I have money or something? I decided to play along.

not bad -- getting through another damn Monday

His response was a little too cute.

aww sorry to hear that sweetie pie

Is he for real? I much doubt it. Still, let’s play along:

how are you?

His response was extremely enthusiastic:

i m great how about you cutie pie ? you are so cute

I’m not cute, I'm skeptical. But polite, for now:

You're very friendly ;)

This spurred him on to declare:

i m friendly bec of you being so cute and sweet :) so what type of guys are you into

I haven’t answered yet, largely because I’m pretty sure he’s running some kind of scam. It would be nice to get this kind of sincere attention, but all I seem to attract are men who buy jeans and can’t stop talking about them.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Shut up. Please. Please, just SHUT. UP.

I posted before about a clueless married friend who asked me while I'm still single. I told her I didn't know and hoped that would be the end of it.

Of course it wasn't. Out of the blue she emailed me:

Do you pray for your future husband?

She's a devout Catholic. I didn't want to get into my whole spiritual confusion, so I responded tersely:

I used to. It didn't seem to work.

Subtext: Please stop. Just stop.

She is oblivious to subtext.

Hmmmm. God's timing is not our own.

That's for darn sure. I didn't respond, hoping she would let. It. DROP.

She didn't.

The priest who married my husband and I said the best relationships/marriages happen when neither is looking. That is what happened with Devon and I. We have been friends since I was 22; we used to work together and we crossed paths 14 years ago regarding work stuff. Neither was looking, but God changes hearts. The harder you try, Ayelet, the more it will allude [sic.] you. Just my own experience.

When I didn't respond, she added:

My 2 cents.

Why is it that people think they have the right to judge and criticize you just because you accept their friend request on Facebook? I haven't responded, but I've been wanting to send her an article entitled "17 Things You Should Never Say To A Single Woman," which includes #8:

The right guy will come along when you stop looking.

I don't know if I should send it to her. Because I don't want to have that conversation with her. The one where I tell her, "Shut up. Please. Please, just SHUT. UP."
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Do you REALLY need to ask that?

I've been getting a lot of attention from 20somethings on OKCupid. At least once a week, someone visits my profile and usually tries to strike up an acquaintance. This is frustrating because I'm not trying to maximize the number of men who see me naked, I'm trying to get married.

I expressed this frustration in a Facebook status update and got this question from an acquaintance (at least she emailed it to me rather than posting it as a comment):

Can I ask you a personal question? You seem like a very social person and you are involved in a lot of organizations; why are you looking for a guy online? It seems like you should have no problem meeting someone live and in person in NYC. Just an observation.

Do you REALLY need to ask that???? If I knew, I WOULDN'T STILL BE SINGLE. Obviously I'm doing SOMETHING wrong, but I don't know WHAT, and I'm frustrated as Sisyphus.

My mood has taken a definite downturn. I'm not sure if it's the cumulative effect of all the work shit that went down, or my menstrual cycle, or the continued pain, relative immobility, and uncertainty about the expensive intervention I've just embarked upon. I slept most of today, I used the light box, and yet I couldn't bring myself to take a shower this evening. Not a good sign.

I did force myself to brush my teeth, and even flossed. And I still go through my ridiculous multi-step skin care routine, which includes castor oil to re-grow overtweezed eyebrows, a lash enhancer, a light glycolic acid peel, retinol serum, and three different eye products. So I'm not giving up completely. But I feel miserable.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Damaged goods for damaged goods?

I don't want to appear ungrateful when people offer to set me up. Since I can't go to many parties or singles events these days, and since I've given up throwing good money after bad on dating websites, how else am I going to meet someone? But I'm not interested in marrying another person who has a mental illness.

This might seem unfair or arrogant. After all, I'm proud of how high-functioning I am (at times); why wouldn't I give another person the same credit?

It just doesn't seem like a good idea. Genetically or otherwise. Aside from that... it just bothers me. But I had some trouble articulating how I felt when a friend emailed me with a shidduch suggestion.

I am getting on a plane now but MUST speak with you later. I had an idea for a shidduch for you while we were in (another city). He lives in (another city) -- Masters in psychology but works in IT now. Used to do clinical work. Also managing bipolar disorder and overcoming a difficult family situation and never previously married.

He's VERY funny. I don't know him well and did not see him this trip but being in (another city) reminded me of him and I heard he is doing well...

I immediately thought of you and wondered if you would be interested in talking to him. Don't tell me to send him to your blog. If you are interested, talk by phone...

I am SO pleased how well you are doing!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've gotten into trouble with friends by blogging about encounters with them. So I was on the fence about sharing this conversation. All I responded was:

Thanks. I'm not sure I want to be with someone who also has bipolar. It might be too much.

I couldn't put my finger on why her suggestion bothered me so much until I read an article about Michael and Chava Willig Levy, He's legally blind, she's a survivor of polio, and they've been married 30 years with two children. Heartwarming story, blah blah blah, but the Q&A that really hit me in the gut was:

Did you have any reservations about marrying someone with a disability?

Chava: We were both dead set against marrying someone with a disability. It’s a piece of who we are but certainly not what defines us and what was so thrilling was that we had so much else in common. We are both very attached to Jewish tradition, we both love music, words, kids, and then we both have disabilities. It’s been symbiotic; it happens that the things he cannot do, I can, and what I can’t do, thank God, he can.

Michael: People would want to set you up with people who are disabled just because of that without knowing anything else about you and it’s dehumanizing because they are saying that your central quality is that you lack something.

They didn't meet because they were disabled, they didn't fall in love because they were disabled, they didn't get married because they were disabled. It's not the first quality they considered when seeking a match, and it's not the first thing they think of when they think of themselves.

Granted, my friend's friend is said to be funny (which most people think Ayelet is) and to have worked in my field at one point. But that's not why she thought of me for him. She thought of him because he has bipolar and I have bipolar.

I think that's the biggest reason I may never go "public." I have never wanted to let my illness define who I am. Some days I'm more successful than others. But having people say, "I want to set you up with this guy who has bipolar disorder" is as disheartening as being hit on by men I find unattractive who say, "We should go out because I have bipolar disorder."

When you seek a life partner, ideally you find someone who complements you -- who is strong in areas you're not, and hopefully you're strong in areas they're not. I don't want to marry someone who shares my biggest weakness. Just like I don't want to marry someone who's got a bad temper.

I'm not looking for someone who's perfect, despite what my sister might say about me. But I want to be with someone who's calm and easygoing. Maybe a little too calm and easygoing, so he'll appreciate my vivacity, energy, enthusiasm, and passion. Because that's the positive side of my mood disorder. I don't need someone who's a laugh a minute -- but I do need someone who appreciates my sense of humor.

Apologies to the friend, who will probably read this post. I hope I've disguised you sufficiently. I do appreciate you thinking of me -- but I don't want my bipolar disorder to be the first thing you think of when you think of me.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, October 05, 2013

My joints are too flexible. My poker face sucks.

After several appointments were rescheduled, I finally went for my Apostherapy evaluation. Apostherapy is an Israeli-developed form of physical therapy that trains your muscles to support your joints appropriately. Joints that have been injured are often poorly supported by muscles. It's not the muscles' fault. They just stiffen and tense up around the joint, which causes pain. An enormous load of pain.

Having injured most of the joints in my body at one time or another, I have a great deal of pain. Basically, all of my joints are overly flexible and I'm extremely accident-prone.
  • I'm flat-footed and pronate because my ankles are weak: I sprained both of them within four days when I was a 17-year-old spending the summer in Israel, and I've sprained each of them at least twice since. 
  • As a senior in college, I developed neck and shoulder problems from spending too much time hunched over a computer working on my honors thesis. I still have pain and stiffness from time to time. Going to a chiropractor helps, but I haven't made time for that recently; I probably should.
  • I am knock-kneed, thanks to the horrible personal trainer at Crunch, who in 2006 probably stretched out my ligaments too much, and they never quite recovered. 
  • I've had lower back and pelvic issues since 2000, when I slipped on a wet floor and sprained half my pelvis. My hips are not properly aligned. The pain was more or less cured through acupuncture, but it resurfaces now and again to torment me.
And after all these injuries, I never received appropriate treatment. Hopefully that stops now. The Apostherapy program is designed to retrain all of my muscles to properly support most of my wobbly joints: knees, hips, back. Don't think my ankles will be assisted, and pretty sure my neck and shoulders won't. But fixing my knees and hips will have a huge impact on my well-being.

I don't know if I'm allowed to explain how it works in more detail than the website does, so if you're interested, check it out. I have some confidence in my physical therapist, because what she told me about myself made sense: all of my major injuries do seem to result from various overly flexible joints.

But it better work, because it is hugely expensive and not covered by insurance. I was hoping I could pay for most of it next year using flexible spending dollars, but I had to cover a whopping fee on the first day and will receive large credit card hits in November and December. The final three payments will be in 2014 and I can use pre-tax dollars for them.

So that's the latest on the knees. I went to an ENT and an allergist because my sinuses have been dreadful this past summer and autumn. I had sinus surgery in 1995 and was hoping I would never have to undergo that agony again, but was feeling very uncomfortable.

The ENT prescribed a steroid spray, which helped a teeny bit. Then I got a wicked sinus infection and bronchitis, for the second time in six months. A friend suggested I see an allergist, so I made an appointment. After jabbing my forearm thirteen times with a surprisingly painful circular needle, the allergist realized that one of my psychiatric medications might be suppressing the histamine reaction. Annoying. So a tech drew some of my blood for tests, which showed that I'm not allergic to basically anything: dust, mold, cats, dogs, ragweed, pollen, grass.

This is good news in case I ever get a cat again, but if I don't have allergies, why are my sinuses always inflamed?

"It's non-allergic rhinitis," said the allergist. "Try a different steroid spray for a few weeks. If it's not better, come in again and we can try some prescription medications." She also told me that my deviated septum, which was repaired in 1995, has re-deviated. "An ENT would know more about whether surgery is needed," she said.

I was slightly tempted to go back to the ENT and lobby for another surgery, since this time I would go to a cosmetic surgeon and get the tip of my nose refined while my septum is straightened, but for now I'll stick with the steroid spray and see what happens. I'm also thinking I should go to an acupuncturist to see if they can get rid of some of the sinus inflammation. About a month ago I went for an acupressure facial treatment, and the esthetician was horrified at all the stagnated ch'i in my face. I think my whole head is stagnated.

But acupuncture will have to wait for a bit, because I'm starting to study for my LCSW exam. I went to my first review course and ran into a former co-worker whom I actually like, which was a pleasant surprise. I'll study for a few weeks and then schedule the exam.

And then I will really start looking for another job, because at this point I'm just hating mine. I pretty much hate four of the counselors, who have treated me like crap even though I've treated them fairly. Other counselors remind me that these counselors have had problems with all the previous social workers, so I know it's not my fault, but it's still unpleasant.

I hate not having an office. I work in the chart room, which has a computer and a phone, but there's no privacy. I have one tiny bin in which to store all of my personal files and effects. It's poorly ventilated and extremely dry; I'm convinced that's why I've had bronchitis/sinusitis twice in the past six months. (Which didn't exactly impress the allergist. "If you've had bronchitis six or seven times in the past six months, that would really be something to worry about," she said.) But missing weeks of work and going through significant pain and discomfort is bad enough.

I hate that methadone maintenance programs don't expect anything from the patients. So most of them don't do anything. They get food stamps, Medicaid, and weasel their way onto SSI. They stop using heroin but continue using cocaine -- or don't stop using heroin and continue using cocaine. I don't respect people who aren't trying to change for the better. Which means I don't respect a huge number of my patients.

At my last job, with people mandated to treatment by parole or other agencies, we had to deal with a lot of resistance ("I'm only here because my P.O. makes me come here"), but we also saw a huge amount of change and growth. I like being an agent of change. I do not like enabling stagnation. I'm an acolyte of Albert Ellis: if you want to feel better, you gotta push your ass. Not sit around using heroin and cocaine and watching TV all day.

This appears to be a particular problem in the clinics where I work now; in other neighborhoods, I saw patients who were making more of an effort. Which could be because of the neighborhood culture, or because of the clinic managers. Doesn't really matter, because the end result is the same: I don't like working where I'm working.

And people are starting to notice, sometimes, that I'm not happy. The fax machines are kept in the clinic managers' offices. I had to go in there and fax a document to help a patient secure housing. Sitting in the office waiting for the fax to go through, I began imagining how I'd tell everyone off once I got a better job and gave notice.

"I hate working here," I'd say to the clinic manager. "You're the worst manager I've ever dealt with. Nobody respects you. You play favorites. You let a little bitch without a license make my job extra difficult and disrespect me in front of patients. I want to--"

"What's wrong, Ayelet?" asked the clinic manager, interrupting my flood of negative thoughts.

"Oh, nothing -- I'm just waiting for the fax to go through," I said, hastily rearranging my features into a semblance of pleasance.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"