Saturday, May 31, 2014

Even stupider about men than Ayelet

Not many women are stupider about men than I am, so when I met one, I had to blog about her.

Stupid Idjit Girl (SIG) is probably in her late forties/early fifties, judging by her profile pic. Two last names means she's either widowed or divorced. She and I are in a Jewish singles group on Facebook. Another woman posted in the group that a guy she'd gone on one coffee date with had texted her the next morning to suggest they watch a movie at his place that night. Uh-huh. Obviously a booty call. A number of people commented on her post, including this troglodyte.

Troglodyte: You made yourself look lose [sic.] by kissing on a first date. This is being shomer negiah and shomer yechida makes [sic.] dating less complicated (albeit less fun)

I was the first to call him out.

Ayelet: He participated in the kiss too, Troglodyte. Does that make him loose as well? Most of the people in this group have been married before, so it's naive to think they'll practice shmirat negiah.

Others followed my lead, including SIG.

SIG: On which date do you think a woman should kiss a man, Troglodyte, to not be considered loose? On what date do you wish someone would kiss you?

I liked her comment, which encouraged her to send me an email:

SIG: hi. Troglodyte makes me ANGRY!

(Obviously she used his real name, not "Troglodyte.") But seriously: one stupid comment gets you zero-to-sixty ANGRY? I thought I had a temper.

Ayelet: oh, he's just a troglodyte who can't get women, and he's bitter

SIG: what is a troglodyte? is that the reason, [sic.] he can't get laid? lol

That should have been the first indication she's not very bright.

Ayelet: "troglodyte" is like a cretin or a boor

SIG: oh ok... I don't get men...they want women to sleep w/ them YET at the same time they want to be able to call us names for doing it. IT MAKES NO RATIONAL SENSE.

Well, she's not wrong there.

A: he's angry because women don't want him, so he's blaming them publicly

SIG: oh, because no one wants him... hmm... yeah

I would have been fine if she'd stopped there, but she decided to confide in me:

SIG: I want someone I have known on AOL for 13 months..
I need to quit thinking about him
he wants too much
do you like anybody?

She's still on AOL? Strike two. And no way in hell am I telling a total stranger, male or female, if I like any boys. Are we in 6th grade?

A: what does he want that you don't want?

Hoping it's something simple so I don't have to get too involved. I figured she'd say "a commitment" or "to be shomer Shabbat" and I could throw a few platitudes at her -- be true to yourself, but don't be afraid to take a risk, something like that. I was not expecting:

SIG: to come meet me, from [another state], he will tell me his last name and fly here if I do a sex video. I have to do it on mycell phone and show him on skype

Whoa. That is very, very bad. Someone who asks you to make a sex video and stream it to them is likely to distribute it. Also: she's known him 13 months and doesn't know his last name? Is she a complete idiot?

A: ewwwwwwwwwwww
forget him NOW, that is disturbing

SIG: also, he wants to be able to handcuff me and tie me up
very upsetting

Well, under the right circumstances there's nothing wrong with that, but these are not the right circumstances.

A: I would block him and not talk to him at all.

SIG: I told him I am only accepting real love from him..and I want to go to his house and break all his dishes and slap him in the face

He is not going to give her any real love. And she totally can't see that.

A: You need to break with him completely.

She didn't respond, and I hoped she had lost all interest in chatting, as I had, because I don't like chatting with stupid people.

SIG: sorry..someone came to my door to do work out there...lucky me..they are taking all my trash out

Like I'm interested? Now I really just need to get rid of her. Unfortunately, she sent me some pictures of the sick bastard, including a selfie of his shirtless torso and boxer-brief-clad loins. Not his face, of course. Another red flag she completely didn't see.

SIG: [sick bastard's first name], sigh

Strike three. I'm out of here.

A: Just forget about him. Sorry, just got a phone call.

SIG: ok..are you on the phone now?

A: yes

If someone says they got a phone call, aren't they usually on the phone seconds later? Actually, I wasn't on the phone, but I did not want to get drawn into her loose-boundaried drama.

I know I've done stupid things while dating, but this isn't just stupid, it's potentially lethal. Obviously she's not going to listen to reason; she might not be capable of rational thought. I do not have any time for this person.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, May 26, 2014

Surprise! Bina's in town!

It's been a nice Memorial Day weekend. Yesterday I went on a picnic in Central Park with friends, then went to a standup comedy open mic. Definitely uneven, but it got me out of the house.

As much as I've wanted to, I haven't called any men, although I emailed the one I've just emailed with and not met in person. Haven't heard from him, or from the other guy. Not happy about that, but trying not to let it get to me. We scheduled a date last week for later this week, so I guess we're still on, even though we haven't spoken or emailed in days and days.

Today I planned to get a massage and a facial. What I didn't plan was getting a phone call from my dear friend Bina, who was in town for her cousin's bar mitzvah at a conservative synagogue eight blocks from my apartment. Could I come over?

"I'm wearing a t-shirt and cargo pants," I said. No problem. I walked over and saw her with Asher and their children: six-year-old Gingi, four-year-old Shimmy, and the adorable Matuka, two years old with a halo of curls and a penchant for taking photos with Ima's smartphone. Currently, her enthusiasm exceeds her skill; I was sitting next to them, and she got several shots of my arm, my decolletage, and my nose.

"I take pictures!" she announced, then started hunting through the phone's gallery. "That's me!" she said, pointing at a picture of herself. "Me winging!" (swinging)

"Do you like to swing?" I asked.

"Yes," she said, reluctantly surrendering the phone to her brother Shimmy. She frowned and rubbed at her eye. "Something hurt in my eye," she told me.

"Should I try to get it out?" I asked. My long nails made it difficult to draw her eyelid down and flush her eye with tears, so I thought I should try to rinse her eye with water. "Let's go find a bathroom, okay?" I suggested. She led me out of the sanctuary.

The ladies' room was downstairs, which Matuka negotiated backwards, painstakingly. We went into the bathroom and up to the sink, where I shook some water into her eye.

"Better?" I asked. She blinked, considered, shook her head solemnly and said, "Bettoh." We negotiated the stairs up almost as slowly and found Bina at the top. I guess I forgot to mention I was going to get something out of her daughter's eye. Fortunately, she wasn't mad.

"I wash my eye!" proclaimed Matuka. We went back into the sanctuary and Matuka sat leaning against me, one hand on my leg, one eye on the smartphone she hoped Shimmy would surrender.

It's amazing to see Bina wrangling three children, who always seem to be vectoring off in opposing directions. While she chased Shimmy, I tried to keep Matuka from grabbing a knob on the railing.

"It's dirty," I warned. "Don't touch. Lots of germs."

Crestfallen, she stepped back. "Don't worry, we'll wash your hands," I said, and turned back to look for Bina. When I turned again, Matuka was about to negotiate the stairs again -- by herself.

"Where is she going?" asked Bina, behind me.

"To the bathroom," I said, rushing to the stairs just ahead of about five dozen hungry Jews. "I promised to wash her hands," I continued, lifting Matuka up and out of the foot traffic.

We got the kids downstairs to the luncheon, found them seats, and grabbed them some challah rolls from the buffet so they could start eating while we waited on line for the rest of the food. Takes a village to raise and herd children; Aunt Ayelet is always ready to lend a hand.

Leaving was a little painful; I wish I'd scheduled the massage for later. I don't spend enough time holding and taking care of babies and small children. Feeling the little curly head against my side and small warm hand on my leg was comforting. Of course, the pictures Matuka took of me were vastly unflattering, but those can be deleted.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Jewish Singles Thirty-five to Dead

Last week I went to a Lag b'Omer party sponsored by a group that calls itself "Jewish Singles Thirty-five to Fifties" (JSTF). I've been kicked out of their Facebook group for calling some of the administrators "dicks," although, in my defense, they really are dicks. But they throw fun parties that aren't too expensive, and when I'm not morbidly depressed I like to attend. (Apparently my money's still green to them.)

The Lag b'Omer party was typical of other JSTF parties in that many people much older than their 50s attended. Some women, but in general, men. Old men, with gray or white hair, sagging and wrinkly facial skin, stooped posture, etc. I realize I'm almost 44 and no spring chicken, but these roosters are too old and shriveled even for the cooking pot.

I'd gotten a Brazilian keratin treatment for my hair a few days prior, something I like to do to keep my hair healthy and shiny. It's a very long procedure that includes flat-ironing the product into your hair, so for about a week my hair was as straight and shiny as a shampoo commercial. I wore it down for the party, and while standing and chatting with a group of girlfriends, I felt a pair of hands descend upon my shoulders, grip them a few times with varying pressure, and then slide their fingers through my hair.

Startled, I whipped my head around and saw an elderly man behind me. Gray hair straggled around his shiny scalp. Face of a Shar Pei. "Coming through," he intoned in sepulchral tones. Yeah, right -- you're just walking behind me where there's plenty of room and had to run your fingers through my hair to get by.

The boundary violation would have been unpleasant no matter who took the liberty, but for a man my parents' age to take it is just disgusting. But I shrugged it off. I don't really go to these parties to meet men; I go because I like to dance and hang out with many of the other women who go. I could have told the administrators, but I didn't think it was worth it. Geriatric money is green to them too.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Friday, May 23, 2014

More bad poetry

Today is May 23. The guy doesn't have time to see me until May 29. He hasn't called or emailed, and I haven't called or emailed, because I don't want to appear desperate. Hopefully we will actually go out next week; until then, I console myself with bad poetry.

want to feel your hands
on my body want to feel your lips
on my neck want to feel your weight
over mine want to feel your skin
on my skin

Writing poetry on Twitter is a creative challenge.

calling you, silently
with invisible words
drawing you
closer closer to
my throbbing

Not feeling particularly well today. Smaller and smaller opiate painkiller doses seem to cause worse and worse hangovers: headache, nausea, feeling icky. I really shouldn't take them ever at all. Today's been kind of a waste. I went to the chiropractor and CVS, then home & collapsed. Heart pounding like I just ran a 6-minute mile, which I hope is just an opiate side effect.

I passed the CASAC, though. That's something.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The MINUTE I go OTD, God sends me a frum guy on OKCupid

So I've been seeing this guy. Two coffee dates and many telephone conversations. I know -- according to The Rules it should be the other way around. He's about 7 years younger than I am, went to YU undergrad and got an MBA from University of Phoenix. Pretty cute; not too tall, not too skinny, not too fat, nice smile. Not my toxic type. Never married (so he says), gainfully employed (so he says), lives with his parents because of Hurricane Sandy (so he says; obviously several things need to be verified).

Things I like about him:

  1. We have great conversations. We don't always agree on everything, but we seem to agree on most of the things that are most important to me. We have fun together. Sitting in a cafe drinking coffee with him is more fun than going to my favorite museum with someone I'm not into. Which leads to...
  2. love talking to him on the phone or in person. Even when we disagree. There are zero awkward pauses, although there are some meaningful silences. He's fun, funny, exasperating, sometimes rigid and stubborn. (Remind you of anyone?)
  3. He sought me out. Even though I'm older. My age doesn't bother him (so he says), which I can't say about most men my age.
  4. Initially we emailed and spoke on the phone. I got impatient that he hadn't made plans to get together with me, and we had a minor fight about that via email. I said we should either go out already or stop corresponding altogether. He agreed. Then, after a few weeks, he emailed me again and we made plans and finally went out.
  5. He thinks I'm gorgeous, hilarious, sexy, and smart. Doesn't think I'm fat, which I can't say about most men my age.
  6. He's pretty sexy. He emphasizes, indirectly, that satisfying me would be top priority. 
  7. He says adorable retro things like "if you were my girl, you'd be on my arm and I'd be showing you off." Teeny bit sexist, yes, but I like it.
  8. From what he says and how he presents himself, I think he'd be able to accept my bipolar disorder and like me despite it. I can't really explain how I know this; it's just a gut feeling. And I'm trying to listen to my gut more than my head or heart, since those organs are so frequently wrong.

Things I don't like:

  1. On our first date, he said he had no problem with gay people. This is not strictly true. Apparently he's opposed to gay marriage and thinks homosexuality is unnatural. I am bothered by this, because I'm an LGBTQI ally both personally and professionally. Homosexuality is not unnatural, it's just somewhat rare, like blue eyes. It's not the majority, but that doesn't make it unnatural.
  2. He's pretty religious. He would want his wife to cover her hair and dress modestly in public. What that entails I'm not quite sure; it seems a bit negotiable. For example, if I were in his parents' home and nobody was there but family, would I have to cover my hair? I don't think so, but he's not sure. I've told him a million times I am never going to wear tights or pantyhose every day of the year. I generally only wear them from late October through late March. 
  3. There's a lot I don't know about him. Although, to be fair, there's an extreme amount he doesn't know about me. 

Would I be willing to go back to religious observance in order to get married? Would I really cover my glorious hair? Absolutely. Does that make me a hypocrite? Don't really care. I'm enjoying getting to know him, and I'll see where it goes. I'll have my friends do some research on him. And I'm not giving him a funny nickname, because I don't want to write about him very much on here.

In other news, my start date was pushed back to May 27, so I have almost another week free. I have to go in on May 19 for a brief meeting with HR to fill out paperwork, and May 21 for an all-day department meeting. On May 20 I'm finally taking the CASAC exam; hopefully I'll pass so they can put it on my business cards.

Overall I'm pretty happy right now. I hope that doesn't mean disaster's about to strike.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Friday, May 09, 2014

Don't let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya

In other news, today was my last day in Hell. I start my new job in 10 days.

I've been at these clinics since September 2012. I brought them from a one-year license (the worse) to a three-year license (the best). And yet I've been treated like garbage the whole time. Including today:
  1. No party. No going-away present. No cake. Not even a damn card.
  2. I had to go downtown and then to midtown (corporate HQ), running from office to office and floor to floor to collect secretaries' signatures on a damn form.
  3. The dumbass union didn't tell me I needed to fax them my letter of resignation. But I can bring one in next week; I'm going there for a training.
  4. No exit interview. No interest in what my experience was. Which I guess is a relief, since I had nothing good to say and diplomacy is not my strong suit.
I'm disappointed. Trying to allow myself to feel the sadness and not push it away, so that eventually it will go away on its own.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Who is crazier than Ayelet?

I've noticed a trend among some of my friends: they are actually more irrational than I am. This shouldn't elate me as much as it does, but I just love it when I know that I am being reasonable and some "normal" people are not.  (Of course, they don't know I have bipolar disorder, and for all I know they do as well)

So far I've noticed a trend: the crazy bitches are older than I am, single, and frum. Granted, my sample size is 2, which some might not consider representative.

The first example I'll call Frumma Sara. She and I are planning a charity event involving a skill she's accomplished at, whereas I am not -- crocheting. I saw a funny series of photos showing pristine examples of beautifully crocheted items juxtaposed with the wretched attempts of ordinary people to imitate them. Needless to say, there's not much of a resemblance.

I posted the article on Frumma Sara's Facebook page and jokingly suggested that we have a competition: pick a project, she and I will both try to make it, and we'll see whose end result more resembles perfection. (Hint: It won't be mine.) She thought it was a great idea and suggested we invite people to watch and/or crochet with us for a nominal fee to raise money for charity.

Fine, whatever. I have already proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that I can't crochet. When I was a social work intern, several of the program clients were skillful crocheters. One gentleman used to make pocket money while living in a homeless shelter by crocheting slippers for other residents. So I was given some petty cash to buy needles and yarn, and we all got together to crochet. That is, the clients crocheted and tried to teach me how to crochet. I made a big deformed thumb.

Because I was a smart person attending graduate school and providing psychotherapy and clinical case management to the clients, they assumed I was pretending to suck at crocheting. I assured them that I was honestly trying as hard as I could. Unfortunately, that did not result in an attractive product.

I thought it was a good object lesson for them. It's important to try new things but to be ready to fail, to understand and accept your limitations. It's okay not to excel at absolutely everything. I wanted the clients to know that yes, they had major mental disorders and substance use histories, they'd been homeless, they'd been arrested and gone to prison -- but they could crochet, and I could not.

So I told Frumma Sara that people who want to learn to crochet should watch her, and people who want a good laugh should watch me trying to follow the instructions. She sent me this email:

Let's talk more seriously about the event. In the meantime, my dear, please do not post foul language on your page. I recognize that you are trying to show what a moron the OK Cupid guy is but must you repeat verbatim his lewdness? I have a policy that I unfriend those who curse. So if you are not going to be on the chopping block, consider more elegant ways of expressing disgust with idiotic men. I think there must some... No?! Anyway, my number is 718-xxx-xxxx. It is more likely that I will be available in August as now I have a big project due in July. Thanks.

She's referring to a message I received recently from a 25-year-old, which I duly posted to show my married friends what I endure as a single person, and to receive commiseration from my single female friends. I'll paraphrase it as "You are so fucking hot."

I've had at least one friend apologetically tell me he couldn't be Facebook friends with me because the internet censor he and his wife installed on their computer (they have children) blocks profanity. Fine, whatever, I understand. But he didn't tell me to stop cursing.

I am a grown-ass woman, and if I want to use profanity on my Facebook page, nobody is going to stop me. Immediately I blocked her from receiving my status updates, although I'm not sure how much I'd mind if she unfriended me. Honestly, she could block my updates from her feed. Who does she think she is?

However, the crazy light in Frumma Sara's eyes is dimmed by the glare from my former friend Machla. I assume she's a former friend because she blocked me after our latest email exchange. What set her off? My birthday party. I created an event on Facebook and invited some friends to join me. She sent me this:

Machla: Hi you know when it was your birthday I took you out to a really nice restaurant. And you asked for my birthday at that time. (and also Facebook sent out a reminder to my Fb friends). And I was hurt when you basically ignored my birthday altogether. 

I felt awful. I hadn't written her birthday down. I assumed I'd be notified on Facebook. I didn't remember being notified.

Ayelet: When was your birthday?????? I am so sorry! My health problems have been really overwhelming from July 2013 - March 2014. I never meant to slight you.

M: Please Ayelet - you got a reminder and you had asked me for it specifically - apparently you made no note of it. But Facebook sent out a reminder to all my friends. Ayelet, I don't really care but notwithstanding your health problems you've been very active on Facebook and certainly participated in other friends' celebrations. But as i said I don't really care. I hope you're feeling better. 

Whoa. Epic way to hold a grudge: monitoring my participation on Facebook and concluding I'm ignoring her. Also, clearly she does care, so why the passive aggression?

A: I'm really, really sorry. Is there any way I can make it up to you? 

What  else can I do?

M: There's no need to. Let's just forget it. 

I guess I could have stopped with that. But I knew she was still upset, and she had taken me out to a very lavish lunch -- I wanted to try to atone for my wrongdoing.

A: I don't remember getting a reminder. You know I value your friendship and would want to celebrate with you. 

M: I don't know any such thing. I know that I went out of my way to try to make your birthday special, and even offered to organize a group (but you said you had done that the year before so preferred more private celebrations). And my birthday was totally ignored. I would think you would've at least put it in your phone somewhere if you had asked me for it. And the Fb reminder went out to all my Fb friends. And you're on Fb daily. 

You don't know any such thing? After I tried to schedule coffee with you for months last autumn, and you kept making plans with me, then canceling them? After I brought you a really gorgeous and expensive hostess gift -- coral bracelets to match the coral handbag you carried to my infamous birthday lunch -- when I attended a meal at your apartment? Yes, I'm on FB a lot. That doesn't mean I remember everything.

A: When is your birthday? Can I try to figure out what happened? 

M: It's irrelevant but it's in January.

Not irrelevant. I was paralyzed by depression this past January.

A: Machla, in January I was profoundly sick from a medication my doctor put me on and then got even worse when it was discontinued. Can I celebrate your half-birthday with you? 

M: I'm sorry you were sick - but I just looked at your Fb page you made 4 posts ON my birthday. And I don't want to suffer further humiliation of your forgetting the half-birthday as well. Let's just forget it. Apparently you made no note of it anywhere even though you made a point of asking me as I left you after we went to the restaurant. It's not important. It was only my birthday.

"Suffer further humiliation" when I forget her half-birthday? I don't think I will ever forget her birthday or half-birthday. I'm starting to think that nothing I do or say is going to calm her down.

A: Obviously you're very angry, so I'm not going to ask you to dan l'kaf zechut. I would hope we could discuss it more calmly at another time. And I'm going to end this conversation for the time being. 

Kinda like Yaffa did when I went apeshit on her.

M: I am not angry. But if you say you were inactive on Fb at the time, it's just not so. 

Stop lying to me. And activity on FB is hardly a way to judge someone's psychiatric or medical state.

A: I wasn't inactive on FB. I do not remember receiving notification that it was your birthday. 

M: I understand - but you somehow missed wherever it was that you noted my birthday as well... you missed both things? anyway it's fine - I don't care. 

A: You obviously do care, and it's not fine. Apparently there's no explanation that could satisfy you or no substitution. I'm very sorry I missed your birthday. January was a very difficult month for me; don't judge a person by their FB posts. 

M: My friends took me out to a film and to a nice restaurant. 

Okay, so at least I didn't completely ruin her birthday.

A: Are you sure I was invited? 

M: You weren't invited to it. You don't know any of my other friends. They surprised me with it and I didn't ask them to invite anyone. But since we had celebrated privately when it was your birthday, I thought at the very least that you would wish me a happy birthday. But really it's been a year since your birthday I would think you would've realized that mine must've occurred somewhere in between your birthdays, but you just blithely invited me now to celebrate yours again without making any mention of mine! This is why I said something. 

Quite honestly, I don't know that I care to work on a friendship with a person like this. I know I'm narcissistic, but this is astonishing. I understand wanting reciprocity, but there is no excuse for attacking like this, being so hostile and passive-aggressive and nitpicky.

A: All I can say is that I'm very sorry I didn't remember your birthday during what was a very difficult time in my life. I was throwing up and experiencing weakness and other miserable side effects. 

Your birthday isn't listed on Facebook, which is what I kind of rely on to remind me of my friends' birthdays. I invited you because I thought we were friends. But if this is the way you nurse a grudge, then clearly I need to reevaluate that. 

A friend would have told me right away that she was a little hurt I forgot her birthday. And given me a chance to make it up to her, instead of saying, "No, it's too late, it's fine." 

M: Well I am your friend. And I don't feel a friend should ask her friend to do something for her - if the friend truly feels like doing something, the friend should do it. But no one should ask someone to do something for him or her. I would think you would've realized this yourself. But forget it, I'm sorry I mentioned it. Really Ayelet I do regard you as my friend. 

A: Then I don't understand why you attacked me like this. I didn't blithely invite you to my birthday party knowing I'd forgotten yours. 

M: I didn't attack you but having invited me to yours - didn't you realize you had done nothing to celebrate mine, after I had extended myself to celebrate yours with you? 

I've had enough.

A: No. I was very sick when yours happened. A lot of things fell by the wayside. It had nothing to do with you. Please leave me alone for a while. I feel like you kicked me in the stomach.

And then she blocked me.

It's a shame. Even though I always thought she was a bit weird and flaky, I liked her and respected her. She's a brilliant scientist, and we've had fun together. But I guess this is the end of the road for us.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Constipated hangover

One of the least pleasant aspects of taking codeine for knee pain, aside from its failure to fully ameliorate the pain, is the constipation that follows in its wake. Usually I can tolerate it. However, one day this week the constipation doubled down with a wicked codeine hangover, and I was truly miserable.

This happened because the day before, I took more codeine than I usually do. I'd like to think it was just because the weather has been so up and down, wreaking havoc on my knee joints. But truth be told, I had a very stressful week. I thought that after I left this job I'd feel unadulterated joy. Instead, it's hitting me that I'm really going to miss some of my counselors and patients, especially one patient that just made a very difficult decision with my encouragement. I want to see how that plays out, but I can't. I'm leaving.

So even though I took some codeine in the morning, I also took some in the evening, hoping for stress relief and a little boost of joy as well as pain relief. The next day, I had a horrendous headache, nausea, and general shakiness. My knees were killing me, but I was afraid to take more codeine. I spent a dreadful day in the clinic and was grateful for quitting time.

After several days of constipation, I felt like I was going to explode. Commuting home from work on the subway and bus was torture. The lights were too bright. Voices and noises too loud. Lurching in my seat, I was afraid I'd vomit. And pressure was building in a very delicate area of my anatomy.

The walk home from the train station is about two blocks. Every step jarred. I focused on my breathing, which was labored after painfully walking up the subway stairs to street level. Breathe in, breathe out, I thought. Almost home.

Things came to a head in the head, so to speak. When I finally sat on the toilet... nothing came out. Despite rocking back and forth, squeezing, straining, pushing, grunting, groaning, panting, etc. I started to feel like I was in labor. There was a tremendous need to expel a large mass, but nothing was moving.

My forehead was sweating. My legs, braced on the bathroom floor, were trembling. The pain waxed and waxed; it didn't wane. "Urggggghhhhh!" Another push. "AAAAAAAAAAAAkh!" Dammit. Hesitantly, desperately, I reached down to check on my progress. Nothing. It felt like a large kettleball had been installed inside me, and I couldn't push it out. I leaned back, shaking.

There was only one thing I could do. If Bobby Brown could do it for Whitney Houston, so could I. Clawing desperately inside myself, I managed to break up the mass. After a few more painful pushes, releasing a pitiful few little scraps, I finally shoved out what felt like 15 pounds of crap of varying textures and densities that clogged the toilet decisively. My hands were covered with blood and shit. I washed them and then lay down for a few hours.

So I don't think I'll ever take codeine twice in a day again. I can't imagine taking this stuff every day. Taking drugs really is a sickness, if this is one of the consequences.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

"The Pervert Loves Jazz" is not a rock opera

Pesach was pretty awesome. Jerusha was polite, cousin Yonina was tolerable, my mother kept her distance, and I had a blast with the kids and cousin Yaffa. The food was great, nobody monitored and complained about my intake. I got a fantastic new pair of glasses fairly inexpensively thanks to a Groupon. Yaffa & I went shopping together, and while we were there, she downloaded it and got herself a foxy new pair of prescription sunglasses. We saw the new musical "Aladdin," which was quite good. It was relaxing and fun.

But there was one minor incident.

My nieces & nephew love playing a card game called Anomia. (Here are the directions.) Basically, you each get cards with both a category of something, like citrus fruits or breakfast foods, and a symbol, like a green arrow. If you and another player each have a green arrow face-up, you have to give an example of something from their category. The first one to spit out a noun wins the other one's card.

It's astonishingly difficult. I would find myself explosively shrieking, "LEMON!" or "Pan... waff... SAUSAGES!" because you can't name anything that was previously named. More and more I became aware of the huge similarity between my behavior/demeanor and my mother's. It's been so long since I spent time with her, I forgot how much I resemble her most annoying traits. Which probably explains at least in part why my friend Alona loves my mom and why I'm so angry at her.

I don't want to be like my mother. Yes, she's financially very savvy; she had me start an IRA at age 16, and when I called to check on it recently, the Vanguard phone rep seemed a bit gobsmacked with the sum of my post-2009 portfolio. Apparently I had the foresight to invest in Europe before they switched over to the Euro, and then just left everything alone for decades so it could grow in peace.

Yes, she put braces on my teeth and sent me to Europe and Israel, paid for my expensive private university and part of my grad school education. She took me to the pediatrician and tried her hardest in every way but one: She brought a degenerate pervert (let's call him DP) into my life and my home. And that has had almost as many disastrous consequences as her positive actions.

One of the "Anomia" categories is "jazz musicians." The kids don't know too many jazz musicians. Frankly, I don't either when under pressure; it took me almost an hour (after the game had finished) to remember the name "Thelonious Monk." My aunt, my mother, and my niece Malkah were sitting at the dining room table, and I was in the kitchen cleaning something up, when my niece asked for names of jazz musicians for the next round. I poked my head in.

"DP loves jazz," said my mother with a shy, proud smile. Like it's such an honor for her to pay him to live in her house and sleep in her bed. Like he's such an amazing, wonderful person. Like it's an outstanding achievement attained by few; like he could actually play an instrument, not just a cassette.

I don't like hearing his name. It's like hearing the megillah reader say "Haman." So I made some noise.

"Great! The pervert loves jazz!" I said, walking into the dining room. "Fantastic! The pervert loves jazz! Good to know! How could I forget?"

I hadn't forgotten. In fact, when the category came up, I remembered DP playing his jazz cassettes and delivering interminable pointless monologues about the time he and some friends of his I don't know and don't care about heard that performer back in the 1970s, the decade he exhibited his only sliver of accomplishment by getting a bachelor's and master's in English.

"'The Pervert Loves Jazz' -- is that a rock opera?" asked Malkah. During the game, the only rock opera I could think of was "Tommy," although thanks to the news coverage of Neil Patrick Harris now I could cite "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" with relative ease.

"No, sweetie, it's not," I said, and changed the subject. She was disappointed; I need to make a list of rock operas and jazz musicians and email it to her and her siblings.

My mother was upset. She went into the kitchen and washed a bunch of dishes.

Yes, I know I need to get a therapist already.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"