Thursday, December 9, 2010

24 Incredibly Annoying Things that People Do on Facebook

24 things that I find extraordinarily annoying on Facebook:

1. People who post picture of their kids or pets as their permanent profile picture. Not even a picture of them with their son or puppy, no, just their kids and pets. Frankly, it's creepy.

2. People who punctuate every status update with an exclamation point! Every! Single! One!

3. Friends who "like" every single one of my posts. I have two friends who rarely miss "liking" one of my posts. EVERY freakin post. Like.

4. Frummies who consistently post links from TheYeshivaWorld.com, Matzav.com, VosIzNeias.com or Yated.com. And nowhere else. Get out of the ghetto much?

5. The ultra-frummie whose friend request you reluctantly accepted (usually because they are a cousin or something), who then turns around and gently admonishes you about something you posted not being tznius, or being nivul peh.

6. Relatives who friend you and then tell your mother who is on your friend list (including someone whom you're not supposed to be speaking to).

7. Relatives who friend you and then bring up some of your statuses at family gatherings (does Tanta Rivka really need to know what's going on in your life?) You may say, well then, don't post it on Facebook. But my privacy settings usually restrict my status updates for friends only...there is a trust issue there.

8. Frummies who post racist things on your Wall, or quasi-offensive comments about non-Jews ("...those goyim") or Christian customs, and then wonder why you remove them.

9. Friends who are more or less illiterate and post statuses full of grammatical and syntax errors, or all capital letters.

10. Friends who post the dumbest status updates. "Glee was so GREAT tonight!" or "I love Tuesdays!" or "I am too tired!" or "I had the greatest day at work!" or "TGIF!" or "I am so thirsty!" These are usually also the folks who are guilty of the exclamation point issue.

11. Conservatives/liberals who post, long, brainless, unthought-out, multi-comment diatribes on their liberal/conservative friends' walls. I have one left-wing friend (who actually is not a friend) who challenges every conservative statement I make with pure mush. He uses my wall as a podium to rant about his pet causes in the most inane way possible. Mind you, conservatives do the same thing to their liberal friends. I know I've been guilty of this one, mostly when I first started facebooking. How about keeping it to a well-thought-out, clever, succinct two sentences?

12. Friends who post utterly cryptic status updates with a lot of pronouns. "I told you it wouldn't happen." "I can't believe he did that to her." "I hate what was just told to me."

13. Anything having to do with Farmville, Mobster Wars, etc. Seriously.

14. Poking.

15. Frummies who have joint Facebook accounts (see Frum Satire's rant on this.) MoisheandChaikie Blinsky? Really?

16. Frummies who post under shortened versions of their last names, as if that would prevent anyone in their kids' yeshivas from figuring out they were on Facebook.

17. Facebook memes. Everyone post your bra color to show support for breast cancer! No, actually, that isn't about breast cancer. It's about your bra. Post a cartoon character as your profile picture to show you are against child abuse! No thanks, I'll keep my profile picture; I support child abuse.

18. Women who post pictures of shoes or flowers as their profile pic.

19. Strange men who friend me. It's Facebook, not a bar.

20. People who curse consistently in their status updates. I have a friend who is a surgeon, who routinely uses foul language in his statuses. I really don't get that.

21. Friends of friends (whom you don't know) who make nasty comments on your posts. Lady, I don't even know you; don't lecture me about global warming or anything, really.

22. People who post incredibly personal medical factoids as their status updates, or (worse) on your wall. "Webgirl, I'll be in your neighborhood in two weeks to take my dyslexic brother to a special hospital." "My doctor just prescribed some new anti-depressants, and so far, so good." "Webgirl, let's get coffee next week instead; I'm expecting my period tomorrow."

23. People (mostly in their twenties) who have over 800 pictures of themselves posted on Facebook, many of which were obviously taken with their cellphone.

24. People who tell you (on Facebook) that they think you are addicted to Facebook.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Same

I recently accepted some freelance work from an old shul acquaintance of mine, Brandy, and we spent a few hours working very closely together. I really like Brandy and I think she likes me. We were in a meeting last week and I was describing a concert that my husband and I recently attended, and Brandy looked up at me and said "why don't we ever hang out? We should go out sometime!" "Yes!" I enthusiastically replied. "Let's do something!"

We both genuinely meant it at the time, even though I knew, I just knew that it was highly unlikely we would ever actually get together. Brandy and I, though we had a lot in common, had completely different social circles. I thought about that, and wondered why. We went to the same synagogue. We lived in the same area. She was very funny and fun and we had a great deal of overlap in our lives. And then it hit me. And I didn't like it. Brandy and I both consider ourselves Modern Orthodox, but we are clearly at opposite halachic ends of the spectrum of MO. Brandy and I had minor religious differences. These religious differences kept us socially apart.

Why does this make any difference? What is the problem? Well, theoretically, there is no problem. Lots of my immediate friends are religiously different.

Really? Are they?

Then I started to take inventory. While I do have lots of Jewish friends from my past from all different points on the religious spectrum, I was horrified to realize that all the women I hang out with on a regular basis, the women I call, go to coffee with, catch movies with, go biking with, etc. are exactly like me. Exactly.

When did this happen?

Now mind you, I'm not a total loss in this department. I have a wide circle of "extended" friends, like my best friend from childhood who is way out on the fringes of orthodoxy, or my Christian friends from past jobs whom I occasionally go for lunch with, or the Moslem couple that my husband and I go to dinner with twice a year. I have my yeshivish friends back in New York whom I stay with when I go to visit, and I have a whole bevvy on Reform and Recontructionist friends from the class in Tanach that I used to teach.

But I don't hang with these people. No, it seems that these days, I only hang with Webgirl's religious clones. Hair-covering, skirt wearing, don't-eat-out, Torah-uMaddah-right-wing YU types. My posse is completely homogeneous. When, oh when, did this happen? Am I any better than the Yeshivish people in Brooklyn whom I mock, those women whose circles are entirely Yeshivish?

Now, I will say this. I love going out with my friends. They are great women. I can be myself around them. We also have nice clean fun. Did you just laugh when I said "nice clean fun?" But it's true. We don't have uncomfortable conversations. There's no cursing. There's very little drinking (an occasional glass of wine.) There's no talking about things that should remain private. Most of us get each other's cultural references. We have interesting things to share. We agree with each other and when we don't, it's ok. We laugh, we make fun of each other, we cry to each other, we get each other.

Earlier this year, on a visit to NY, I went out with a group of women that I used to be friendly with when I was single, all living on the Upper West Side, all to the far left of me on the Modern Orthodox spectrum. The conversation got around to (I'm not kidding) whose husbands were sexually selfish, and the raunchiest nightgowns we had ever purchased. I didn't participate. I felt like I somehow got transported to a scene from Sex and the City. These were classy, shomeret Shabbat women, and as the conversation progressed, I began to have a great deal of cognitive dissonance. Everyone, including me, was drinking beer, though no one was tipsy. The convo was also sprinkled with expletives, nothing that would curl your hair, just the occasional s-word, etc. I didn't feel uncomfortable, just out of my element. This was not me.

On the same visit to NY, I also went to dinner with three old friends from Boro Park and Flatbush. Our convo centered around: the recent drop in sheitel prices, chessed opportunities that had just opened up, who we could set up with whom, and a wonderful shiur one of the women had heard. While I wasn't jumping out of my skin, this was also not exactly my thing. I wanted to go home.

So maybe it's not the worst thing in the world for me to hang out with people who are just like me. But growing up frum in New York and then leaving had ingrained in me that there is value in building a world of diversity for yourself. Being with people who are not like you challenges you, makes you grow, makes you think, opens you.

And yet, here I am. I'm comfortable with my little posse. And we are going hiking together next week, on a trail that is not too advanced but not too challenging either. We will probably all wear the same style of bandanas to cover our respective hair.

Is that so terrible?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ickiness Returns.

For any new readers of my blog, (and I suspect I've lost a few and possibly gained a few, with my infrequent posting), let me bring you up to date on my current sitch in a sentence or three.  I started this blog when I was newly divorced and it was mostly about being divorced and how much it had changed me.  About a year a half later I worked things out with my Ex and we remarried. 

Yeah, that about sums up my current life.  Amazing, how much life you can fit in a para.

I was ready to start dating pretty much about ten minutes after I received my get.  I dried my numerous tears, saddled up and got right back on the horse. And it wasn't "rebound dating" or post-traumatic-shock dating.  It was productive, ready-to-move-the-hell-forward-dating.  My marriage had been over for a year before it was over.  I was ready.

BUT.   (Big but.)  I will tell you this.  Not once, not for one second during my actual marriage did I ever consider cheating.  I didn't want to.  I didn't think about other guys.  I wasn't attracted to other guys.  I didn't flirt with other guys and was quite grossed out when they flirted with me.  Once I stood under that chuppah, I considered myself completely devoted to my husband, no matter how miserable life with that person ever made me feel.  And I had some moments.  But while I certainly wanted to kill my current spouse, my heart still belonged to him.  Is that weird or normal?  Not important.  I'm simply wired that way.  Certainly now that we are remarried, happily so, I don't window shop, I don't rove, I don't "lust in my heart."  I'm not interested.  I'm his.

So when I went to an engagement party recently and saw Rich, someone that I dated while I was divorced, I steered myself in another direction. Immature, maybe, but it brought up feelings of ickiness.  I had gone out with this person a few times and he was just not for me.  I might have even blogged about it; I don't remember. He was nice looking enough, smart enough, funny enough, etc. but he had known me when I was married the first time, and certainly known my husband, and I found that very unsettling.  On our dates, he spent some time badmouthing The Ex, and told me he gave me a lot of credit for sticking out the marriage for as long as I could.  He told me he was always a little drawn to me when I was married, but of course, never did anything about it.  That was the clincher for me; the ickiness factor of someone who knew and was attracted to me when I was married just soared off the scale.  I dumped him nicely.  Rich did not go gently into the Good Single Night though; he followed up with some "why, please help me understand why" phone calls, and the person who set us up got involved as well.  All this did nothing but add more ickiness to the equation for me.

I remember when I went out with Rich, and I was so repelled by the fact that he admitted to being attracted to me when I was married, I discussed this with Nice Jewish Guy, who explained one of the many differences between men and women to me.  "Men," he said, "are always imagining, wondering, turning stuff around in their heads.  We can be totally in love with our spouses or girlfriends or whatever, and as soon as we meet a woman, we wonder what it's like to have sex with her. It has nothing to do with infidelity or anything.  We never act on it, we just wonder."

I, clearly, am not wired that way.  I accept that many (most?) men are, but if that is the case, I kinda don't want to know about it.

So there he was, Rich, at this engagement party, big smile on his face.  And there I was, stag, because my husband couldn't make it, and as soon as I saw Rich, I knew I had to get out of there.  Ok, breathe, breathe, maybe he'll have the class to say hi and bye and I can just not have any drama.

Oh no.  There was drama.

"WebGirl!  How are you?  I hear you actually married The Ex again!"

"Yes!  Hello!   Rich.  Hello.  How are you?"

"I couldn't believe it when I heard from Soandso that you remarried him, especially after everything we talked about when we went out."  (Mind you, friends of mine are all around, everywhere.)

"Yes, well, great to see you, Rich.  I had forgotten that you were friends with the Chassan.  Great to see you.  Bye."

Now, Rich doesn't live in my town.  I had forgotten that we had mutual friends in the person whose engagement party it was, and I suppose he had flown in.   I was hoping he would fly out just as quickly.  I fluttered around a bit more, wished all parties Mazel Tov blah blah blah, talked to some girlfriends about an upcoming fundraiser the shul was having, and plotted my escape.  I felt Rich's eyes on me.  I nearly made it to the door, when he sidled up to me again.

"Webgirl."

"Hello again Rich.  Well, I gotta get home.  Nice to see you."

"What do you mean by that?"

"Whuh huh?  What do I mean by what?"

"Well, before you said 'great to see you!'  Do you mean that?  I mean what am I supposed to take away from that?  Is everything ok with you and Husband?"

Oh, the ickiness.  I was swimming in ickiness.

"What I meant was that it was lovely seeing you and I wish you the best of luck.  Everything is GREAT with me and Husband.  Ok, ba-bye."

"Everything is great with Husband and it's great to see me.  You use the word 'great' a little indiscriminately, don'tcha think?  Do you want to talk or something?  Want to go to Starbucks?"

OMG.  No.  The ickiness factor was high into the red zone.  And on top of that, I started to feel the guilty-crawlies, because Husband and I had had a bad fight that morning and hadn't made up yet.  There were doors slammed. And here I was, standing here with my Rich, my Icky Former Date, who just asked me out for coffee, so that I could tell him how unhappy I was, admit that I loved Rich all along, and possibly swoon into his arms before I filed for divorce and ran off with him.

Ok, that was all my head drama, but what was real was that Rich was standing here in the community where I lived with my husband, inviting me to coffee.

"Look Rich, I'm very happily married.  There's nothing to read into this. Nothing, zero, nada.  I want to be very clear about this.  I wish you the best of luck.  Bye."

And with that, I pirouetted the hell outta there.  I went home, took a long shower, made up with my husband, and tried to shake the whole incident off.

I want to explain that Rich is not a psycho.  He's not a stalker type or anything like that. I think he's just a really nice single guy who's very lonely.  Most of the ickiness is probably in my head. I think.

Coddling

Ok ladies, are you listening?  There's doing something special for the ones we love, and then there's coddling/spoiling.  Don't mix these up.

I'm not the most social person in the world, but I have one small social gift:  I can pick up personality types pretty quickly. There is a type of woman (men too, but I see it more in women) who loves to sacrifice, and sees that as part of giving and loving.  I have a friend, older woman in her fifties, who is married to a brilliant guy.  He's so brilliant that he hasn't worked in the thirty years they've been married.  Oh, he's held little jobs here and there.  He claims he has all sorts of medical ailments, and I'm sure some of them might even be real, but he has used these over and over again as excuses not to go out there like the rest of us and earn a living.  Rayna, on the other hand, works like a dog. Whether she's sick or well, she's out there every day, bringing home a paycheck.  Benjy, besides his ailments, is also a very large man.  He's about 6'3"  and weighs around 300 lbs. Many of his ailments are undoubtedly related to his weight.  But Rayna cooks for him all the time, makes his favorite meals, fattening as they might be.  She gently tries to introduce him to more veggies and salads, but Benjy is "not ready for them yet."  Coddle, coddle coddle.  They have a great marriage and have raised three delightful sons, who undoubtedly will expect their wives to coddle them as well. We'll see.

Then there's Olivia.  Olivia is in her sixties, and her husband is a Vietnam vet.  He has some major kidney problems but won't be eligible for a transplant until he drops thirty pounds. And yet Olivia continues to cook lots of special meals for the hubby, whatever he likes.  She doesn't like to pressure him, even though a little tough love might save his life.  Recently, I complained to her about how my husband was not a vegetable eater, and she admonished me for not serving him just the meats and starches that he loves.  I told her as gently as I could: I don't believe in raising a spoiled spouse.  She doesn't get it.  Her husband is also in charge of where they go, what they do, etc., and Olivia, not wanting to put any pressure on her fragile husband, goes along with whatever he wants.  

Then finally there is one of my sisters-in-law, Robin.  My nephew is 14 and chubby.  Perhaps that's because Robin only feeds her son what he likes, which is pasta, pasta, pasta.  I recently had their family over for a meal, and I had to cook an entire second meal for my nephew (at Robin's request) because he doesn't eat chicken unless it's done a certain way and only a certain part, and he won't eat vegetables or fruit, and he only likes bread toasted to a certain doneness, and of course he has to have pasta. etc. Then Robin complains about how the other kids tease him because of his "little extra tummy."  And she doesn't push him to do team sports because he's sensitive and she's not sure how well he would fare being in competition with kids who are more athletic than he. Academic competition is fine, because my nephew is very bright and can hold his own.

These women are raising perpetual babies.  They are making the world all shiny and bright and accommodating for their guys, but the problem is, the real world is not very accommodating at all.  One day, these women will not be around to protect them, and these men will be lost.   They are enabling unhealthy food habits and immature, controlling behavior, and each of them views what they are doing as love.

I get crazy when I see stuff like that.  Maybe because I was raised with so much tough love. Don't get me wrong, my parents did a lot of nice things for me, but my treats were special and rare, and I grew to appreciate them.  In our house, you ate what was served, or you didn't eat.  No one ever died from skipping  a meal, my Mom used to say.  My parents cracked the whip in both academics and sports, and I'm grateful to them for that, because I learned how to play with a team, and even though I struggle with my weight as an adult, I think I'm healthier for it. My husband and I will do occasional nice things for each other, but when we get lazy about stuff, neither of us can stand to suffer any fools. 

There is being nice and there is spoiling rotten.  Learn the difference.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Me and the Big C

One of the side benefits to going through fertility treatments when you are over forty is that you are given a complete physical rundown. I have been through every medical examination possible, and I'm healthy as the proverbial horse, bee"aitch.

On one of my last exams, my doctor saw a little something on one of my internal organs that He Did Not Like. No sirree Bob, he did not like that thing that he saw. That's how he kept phrasing it to me. "We're not sure what it is, but I don't like it. It's got to come out before we do anything else. I just don't like it." Okey dokey, so two hellish, worry-filled weeks later, I had some fun surgery and they took out the Thing That the Doctor Did Not Like. The surgery was top-secret; I didn't want input from friends or family or frankly anyone. If it was cancer, it was cancer and I would deal with it. If it was not cancer, then I would deal with whatever it was. My siblings and siblings-in-law have a longtime history of saying the well-meaning, wrong thing to me in times of crisis and I just didn't want to deal.

It was not cancer. Thank God. It was something benign, but it was good that it came out. And now we are pressing the restart button on my fertility treatments. Here we go again.

If you've ever gone through the medical exercise of thinking you might have cancer, you probably can identify with some of what I felt. Or maybe it was totally different for you. I really would rather not have to lop off parts of my body or organs, or blast radiation through myself, or push poisonous toxins through my system. And I really, really would rather not die right now. I am finally in the loving, supportive relationship that I've waited all my life to find, and I feel like I have a lot of life yet to live with my husband. I was worried. I was nervous. I cried some. Actually, I cried quite a lot. And I viewed the world with a different lens, a sort of bluish filter on my life. Random thoughts flitted in and out of my troubled mind, some, I realize a little nuts, most, pretty narcissistic. Would this be the last summer I could ride my bike? Would I really have to accept the possibility of never being a mother as fact? Whom would I leave my engagement ring to? Who would want all my stuff? Will my husband remarry? If I have cancer and it's advanced, should I bother with treatment? Have I been good enough to other people? Have I left any sort of mark on this world? Will anyone miss me? Will I see my father in the afterlife? Have I been a good Jew? Will my hair fall out?

My husband dealt with the whole episode in complete and utter denial.

"You don't have cancer. Shutup."

"I might have cancer."

"You don't have any freakin cancer. Stop talking about it."

"What will we do if I have cancer?"

"If you don't stop talking about having cancer, I'll kill you and then you won't have to worry about having cancer."

Etc. Naturally, he was pleased as punch about being right about my not having cancer. He did some major Itoldyousoing. But I recognize his denial for what it was. I don't think he has the emotional tools to deal with the possibility of his wife being ill. It's all he can do to deal with my infertility. He is stretched to the limit. I think that comes with living a very straight, honest life, as he has. You start to believe that because you've never done anything too wrong, nothing truly, truly bad can ever touch you.

Or maybe I'm analyzing this to death.

Another by-product of thinking I might have had cancer was that I realized on some very deep level that I really and truly do believe in God. It's not that I didn't know this before, but I always had nitpickings of the possibility that I was wrong. But then I started to search myself, and I realized that I really do believe. One would think that this would be a relief, but mostly, it just makes me feel more isolated, because it makes my relationship to God more important and more private and intense. Does that make any sense?

So thank you God, thank you God, really, thank you God, WebGirl does not have the Big Cee. But I still have the Big I. Maybe facing down my own death on some level has made me more prepared for the possibility that my infertility treatments might not work. Maybe this experience has made me realize that no matter what I do, no matter how good my doctor is, no matter how advanced the science is, no matter how amazing the drugs are, whether or not I will have a child is really not in my hands at all. Maybe.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Religion of Environmentalism

So, the husband and I are about to start a lovely Shabbat lunch at a friend's house, along with about six other guests. Our hostess apologizes for setting the table with paperware, and explains that her dishwasher is on the fritz.  We all sort of joke about that (she always puts out a beautiful Shabbos table, finest china, linens, flowers etc.).  One of the younger guests, Lainey, very publicy and seriously gathers up her place setting in hand, stands up, and asks for a regular plate, a glass and silverware. 

"Um, sure, but why?"  responds our hostess.

"For environmental reasons."

Naturally I let out a little giggle, thinking Lainey must be making a joke.  She said "for environmental reasons" the same way I would decline eating a cheeseburger, "for religious reasons" or "for kashrut reasons."  But after a nasty little condescending look from Lainey, I realized she was serious.  "I'll be happy to wash the dishes before I go," Lainey continued.  "It's just my thing.  I don't ever use paper or plastic.  I don't own it and I won't eat off of it.  I won't be part of the problem.  I won't contribute to killing the Earth."

Right.

I have someone clean my house every other week, but recently, I hired a special cleaning service to give it a really good, "deep cleaning." This is a service that specializes in homes with pets.  I wanted every bit of dog hair and general yuckiness out of my house.  I wanted windows that sparkled, woodwork that glowed.  I wanted all the dead bugs out of my lighting fixtures.  You get the picture. 

So this special service takes about two days and costs about $150, which is roughly about twice what I normally pay for cleaning (we have a pretty small house).  When I ordered the service over the phone and explained in detail exactly what I wanted done, they asked me if I wanted the extra "green" service.  For an additional $75, they will only use natural products, put my trash into recyclable bags, etc. 

"Absolutely not," I said.  "First of all, if it costs more, it's not green to me.  Second of all, I don't give a rat's patootie about green cleansers.  I want an antiseptically clean house.  I want chemicals.  I want complete dirt removal."  The manager said she understood, but that the company still maintained a green philosophy, but they would not charge me for what she considered a more moral way of cleaning.

Well, the house cleaner, Rose, showed up, and in spite of the fact that I made it clear that I was not a greenie, she refused to use any products containing bleach or ammonia.  She washed my windows with vinegar, which frankly, smelled nasty.  She washed my hardwood floors with water and nothing else.  She used recycled sponges and rags, which, she informed me, would be washed back at the office when she returned, yes, even the one she used to clean the toilets.  She used stuff like lemon juice, baking soda, vinegar, etc.  I could not convince her to even clean my bathroom with a real cleanser.

I said to her, "Rose, let me ask you something.  If, hypothetically, you need surgery someday, would you want the surgeon to clean the instruments and operating table with vinegar?  Would you want him to use recycled tubing from another patient, cleaned with baking soda?"

"That's different," she replied. 

"Not so much, actually.  I want my bathrooms sanitized.  We have a lot of guests on the weekend, and I don't want to get sick.  I want every surface of my bathroom gone over with a bleach-based cleanser."

"Even at the expense of killing the Earth?" she asked me.

Yeah, she really said that.  I live in a very greenified area.  We stick out like sore, ungreen, thumbs.  Politicians in my area actually run on a totally green platform (and win!).  Everybody here recycles like demons.  Many of the grocery stores here don't offer paper or plastic; they'll give you a box or ask you to bring your own grocery carrier (which many people do).  I am like an atheist in the Church of Environmentalism.

I think that most die-hard environmentalists who know me just write me off as a selfish Conservative, one who wastes, who doesn't care, who consumes without thought.  The fact that I don't believe that climate change is a real problem is enough to convince some environmentalists that I am crazy, or evil, or both.  I recently posted something to my Facebook profile on Barbara Boxer's comment about how the number one threat to the U.S. Military was climate change.  Oh yeah, she really said that.  I received the equivalent of a hate mail message from a friend of a friend, who told me I was no better than Sarah Palin, shooting deer from a helicopter, etc.

Sigh. 

The truth is, I"m not a wasteful person at all.  I'm a huge believer in gemaching, freecycling, and borrowing instead of buying, and just in general not wasting resources.  I don't believe these sorts of things should rule your life though, and frankly, I am perfectly comfortable with using paper plates.  I think killing germs is actually good for the environment, and I embrace the use of bleach for disinfecting.  I don't think Mother Earth is dying.  I don't even think she's sick. 

I refuse to jump on the environmental bandwagon.  It is a culture of baseless religion.  I will not drink the green Kool-Aid.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Guest Post by Nice Jewish Guy

Cross Posted from my now-defunct blog, Attention Frumster Shoppers:

(Creeeeak.......)

(Scuff scuff....)

Hello..? {O...O... O...)

Anybody here...? (ere... ere... ere...)

(Looking around)......

Boy, sure smells musty in here. Been a while, hasn't it? Let me drag over this crate here- dust it off a bit- and set a spell.

Well, folks, I'm back. But only to wrap things up; I think it's important to have.. closure. A good word. It's been about a year and change since we've last had a shmooze, and, well- a lot's been happening. Good things, mainly. And that's what I'm here to tell you about.

I'm engaged! She's a wonderful woman. (I wanted to say girl, but hey, we're adults here, with, you know- jobs. ) We have been dating for over a year. I'm a little freaked- hey, I did this once before, and to say that things didn't turn out so great would have been an understatement- but not, as friend and blogger WebGirl says, nauseated and panicky.

I didn't blog at all about Future Mrs. NJG while we were dating; partly because I lost my inlclination to exhibit myself, even anonymously (or quasi-anonymously), and my activities. I didn't feel like I wanted to put everything under the blogging microscope, talk it all out with myself as I was writing. I just wanted to live it.

It wasn't an easy decision to make, but you know what? It wasn't that difficult either. It's been six years since my first marriage fell apart, and about five and a half since my get- and well, higiya zman-- it's time. Time to move on, rebuild, and begin the next chapter. I guess I'm getting some maturity, huh? Gosh, when did that happen.

Oh, look at the time. So much to do... anyway, I guess I'll leave the blog up, but this will be the last post here. The store is closed. No more Frumster Shopping, or any other kind. You might find me posting over at The Road Taken, so, keep an eye out.

So, that's all, folks. You're welcome to hang around, visit from time to time if you like. Just mind the dust and cobwebs.

And remember to shut the lights and door on your way out.

(Scuff.. scuff...)

(Creeeak...)

(Thump.)

GREAT NEWS!

Mazel tov to Nice Jewish Guy who is (gulp) engaged!  Yes!  Another fabulous frum single guy bites the proverbial dust.

Stay tuned for a long-awaited post over at Attention Frumster Shoppers (and perhaps we can convince him to post here in parallel, if you cajole him a bit).

Mazel tov, NJG.  It's been quite a journey, hasn't it.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

I think it was Mother's Day that finally got to me.  I've been holding it together until now.  One unsuccessful IVF cycle behind us, and while I'm pretty despondent, I haven't quite lost it yet.  We're planning on doing another cycle and this time, I'm going to turn on the spiritual spiggot all the way.   Praying, Tehillim, taking on extra mitzvot, asking other people to pray for us, praying for other couples struggling with infertility, etc.  We are focusing like laser beams.  I cried briefly when the first IVF cycle failed, and then I gathered myself up and said, ok, done crying, we're trying it again; what can we do differently this time; focus focus focus.  We are focused, we are beams of light, we have our eyes on the target, our ears to the grounds, our noses to the grindstone, our heads in the oven...

And still, no matter what transpired, I didn't lose it, wouldn't, refused to, not me.  Not even when my friend who was aware of what happened invited us for a Shabbos meal and promised it would be just us two couples and ended up having the other family with six raucous kids and the wife who would not stop talking about her children.  No, not even when another friend who is a year older than I am shouted over the phone "Mazel tov, I'm a grandmother!" in completely oblivious, well-deserved joy.  I held it together.  I kept it in.  I'm a trooper. I'm focusing on the positive, not dwelling on the negative.  I'm a laser beam.

But Mother's Day, for non-mothers is, well, challenging.  And I lost it.

"Do not, under any circumstances, log in to Facebook today," my husband warned me.  So of course, I did.  And FB was brimming with well-wishes and love, happy MDay proclamations, links, pictures of outings and luncheons and thank yous for the crayon cards and breakfasts in bed and shmeary, shmutzy hugs and kisses.  The world is full of mothers and children and spilling over with babies and diapers and formula and today, today is the party that celebrates the sacrifices that I will probably never get to make, the love and connections that I will probably never feel, the babies that will probably never be mine.  Today is the party to which I'll probably never be invited.  This Mother's Day, I am feeling the nasty twisty scorching pain of unmotherhood more than usual.  And so I lost it.  "I guess it's about time" said my husband as I fell hysterically, completely and totally apart in his arms.

Well.  All better now.  No, not really.  But we are trying again soon.  We are not yet in that abyss of hopelessness, but we are certainly tottering on the brink.

It's funny that going through this really does make you feel a little closer to God.  A little angrier perhaps, but still, there's a closeness, a dveykus there that wasn't there before.  I feel very helpless, like He is propping me up and therethereing me along.  Other friends of mine that have gone through assisted reproduction have had similar experiences.  One friend of mine, Eva, told me "I remember that when I was going through IVF, I felt very, very close to God and I am not really that type of person.  And now, years later, I can't really attain that kind of closeness again, but sometimes when I want it, I say to God 'God, remember back then, when I felt so close to You? Remember what that was like?' and just being able to even refer to that time is enough for me."  It's interesting what this sort of thing does to your psyche.  You introspect all the time.   It's exhausting and a little nice.  I read about the women in the Tanach that struggled with infertility, Sarah, Rachel, Chana, and I feel connected and strengthened through their stories.  My infertility has undone and remade me, sea-changed me.

And so we are trying again soon.  And because of this past cycle's failure, we are more able to comprehend that it might not work, that as unacceptable as it might be, we need to accept that we might not become parents.  And we are still hoping and praying that God changes His mind and remembers us, but we are a little closer to accepting that if He doesn't, there is simply nothing that we can do about it and we need to live and move on.  But I still hope, and I still believe there is a chance, no matter how small.  "Yeshuas Hashem k'heref ayin."   God can save you in the blink of any eye.  And as we cling to that last little gasping molecule of hope, we are slowly, quietly moving through our grief.  

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hurtling Towards Healing

I am convinced that someday soon, maybe in twenty, thirty years, we will view treatments like chemotherapy the same way we currently view treating a sick person with leeches.  "You mean to say that you tried to cure cancer by flooding the body with toxins and poisons and chemicals that slowly destroy the person's immune system and simultaneously destroy the cancer too, if the person is lucky? How utterly barbaric."

After all, curing someone through chemotherapy is, more or less (probably less), the same principle as using leeches.  Leeches are horrible little worms that suck blood out of the person's body, hopefully sucking the person's ailment out with it.  We now know that bloodletting with leeches isn't really an effective cure for most ailments, though it was used by the mainstream medical community for centuries.  I wonder if new scientific advances will obscure chemotherapy the same way.  I think they will.

I think the same thing will happen with assisted reproduction. Right now, I am in the early stages of my IVF treatment, but in a week or so, I will have to start giving myself five injections a day.  That's right folks, five nasty, painful injections, four in my stomach and one in my backside.  Not all of them will hurt that much, but frankly, I get pretty queasy at the sight of the two-inch needles alone.  This daily injection schedule will take place for two weeks, over the course of which I will be ultrasounded and have my blood drawn and tested every other day.  How much fun does that sound like?  Two weeks.  I am terrified.  I can't believe that all that most people have to do to have a baby is have sex.

I've been watching injection how-to videos on YouTube in order to get myself used to the idea, and truthfully, it is just frightening me more.  All my life, I've been a little queasy about needles.  I have mildly low blood pressure, and when I have blood drawn, I usually feel sick afterwards and have even passed out on occasion.  It is a horrible feeling.   I am also "blessed" with pale skin and really crummy invisible veins.  Nine times out of ten, phlebotomists have to try at least twice to get the needle in right.  I recently had to have an IV put in and the nurse tried four times to get the damned needle in (while my hand blew up like a water balloon), until the anesthesiologist shoved her aside and did it himself.  It's not so much the pain of the needle prick that I mind, it's the whole gestalt of needles and such.  It's just not fun.  There is something visceral and barbaric about it.

I've basically sailed through my life, thank you very much God, healthy as a horse.  I get a few nasty colds  every year and that's it.  Until last year, I even had all my wisdom teeth.  In my twenties,  I don't think I saw a doctor more than once or twice.  I feel like since I hit forty, my body has been on a steady decline.  I remember attending a class given by Tziporah Heller, in my late twenties, when she said, "the one thing that you can count on in life is that your body will fail you.  For some of us, it happens sooner; for some lucky ones, it happens later.  But it will happen.  Count on it.  You can watch your diet, exercise, do all the right things, but the body is designed to wear out eventually.  So don't be disappointed or surprised when it happens."

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not on death's doorstep.  Far from it.  As part of my fertility workup, I had to have a complete, multi-level physical:  total blood workup, stress test, chest x-ray, complete ob/gyn exam, mammogram...you name it, it's been tested, and thank God, except for the infertility, I am in pretty good shape.   So why does it feel like my body is rebelling?  I guess what I really want to know is, why the hell can the rest of the world have babies and I can't?  Not a day goes by when I don't ask myself this.  I am going to have to give myself five shots a day for 15 days to have a baby.  My neighbor down the block just had her fifth child.  Basically, when she and her husband share a toothbrush, she gets pregnant.  When he looks at her funny, she gets pregnant.  When they eat popcorn at the movies out of the same bag, she gets pregnant.

I heard an interesting and controversial dvar Torah about two years ago.  The upshot of it was that as the universe hurls itself towards the coming of the Mashiach (this conjures up an interesting Star Trek visual for me), the world  is actually healing and unwinding from the primal sins of Creation, and slowly, God is lifting the punishments that He imposed on Adam and Chava, as part of the Tikkun.  Think about it.  Most (or at least many) men in civilized societies do not earn their bread "by the sweat of their brow" any more.  Most men are not hunters or farmers; they sit in front of computers, or in classrooms, or are writing, or are investing, or they sell things in stores, or they treat patients and clients, etc.  I think in ten years, half the white-collar workforce will probably be telecommuting and won't even have to leave their homes.  How many men do you know are riding behind a plow all day? The fact is that "work" today doesn't mean the same thing that it did thousands of years ago, or even a hundred years ago, because the majority of us don't live in an agricultural society and the majority of men are not engaged in back-breaking labor.  And as far as Chava's punishment, most women in civilized society do not die in childbirth anymore, and thanks to epidurals, controlled breathing, etc. even the pain of childbirth labor is minimized.   Women can take ibuprofen and exercise to deal with most menstrual pain. Giving birth and most of what goes along with it, though essentially the exact same process, is no longer something most women fear.  "The curse" is at most an inconvenience.  The gift of medical science has removed most of the dangers and pain involved.  The punishments of the Garden are slowly being lifted and unwound as we move towards the beginning of the next era.  Pretty cool observation, whether you buy into it or not.  I actually like it (though I can see where many people would scoff at this).

But, there are still men who earn their living by sweat of their brow and often by their blood as well. And sadly, there are still women who die in childbirth, or who have horribly painful birth experiences, or women who cannot conceive at all or women who must put themselves through a painful and rigorous process in order to conceive.  I sometimes wonder if assisted reproduction is part of the whole Edenic punishment reversal process. I mean, if I had been born fifty years earlier, my chances at having a child would be zero (not that I even know what's wrong with me, or why I haven't had one, mind you).  All the advanced scientific research for assisted reproduction has taken place very recently.  Even now, in the last decade, there is new technology that has changed the nature of IVF, allowing for older women to have more normal pregnancies, by pre-screening embryos before implantation.   It's mind-boggling how far assisted reproduction has come in the last few years and how much better the statistics are.  Once again, thank you very much God.

And yet, I still have to give myself five shots a day for fifteen days.  I still have endured weeks of testing, poking, prodding, etc. As someone who is in the middle of the actual  process, I still view it as brutal, barbaric, and painful.  And I still can't believe that all some people (most people!) need to do is just have sex.

I do think that maybe in twenty, thirty years, IVF will become an injection-free, much more painless process.  And along those same lines, I think chemotherapy will go on the shelf with leeches and bloodletting.  I hope we will continue hurtling towards our redemption and that the gifts of technology and science will continue to help and heal us.

Coffee with Amy

Got together with Amy this week.  Amy is someone I was moderately friendly with when I was first married (pre-divorce).  She has three kids, all gotten by IVF, so I thought I'd bend her ear a little and get some advice from her.

So we got together at the nearest Bux, and started slurping down the slop, decaff for me since I started my fertility treatment.  I do love my Java, even if it's Starbuck's horrible brew (I'm a Dunkin Donuts coffee girl, but Starbucks has nicer cafes).  After about an hour, Amy confessed to me that she and Bruce were seeing a marriage counselor.  And that she thought about leaving him about three times a day.  And, having been down that road myself, did I have any words of wisdom for her.

Eesh.   And here I was being all jealous of Amy and everything.  She has kids.  She is married to a lawyer.  She hasn't worked in the entire 15 years she's been married.  She's pretty and thin.  She strikes me as a happy person.  But, she's not.

Bruce, apparently, has trouble telling her he loves her, and so consequently, she feels very unloved.  Yes, she hasn't worked since she got married, but that's because she has all these medical issues, and since she's the stay-at-home Mom, she's stuck with all the housework.

"Basically, I am there to be Bruce's slave, to pick up his socks and dry-cleaning, to raise his children, and to have sex with him.  Not so fulfilling.  I want out."

After I got over the shock wave of her confession and "the grass is always greener" stopped replaying in my head like a old Barry Manilow song that you can't shake, I told her this.  I said, if you still love Bruce (she does), keep up the marriage therapy and work on the marriage.  Divorce is horrible.  It's gut-wrenching and horrible.  It's a last resort.

"But it sounds like your divorce saved your marriage," she replied.

I told her that in some weird way, that was true, but that we were not to be used as any sort of example of good marital behavior.  What happened to us was very, very unusual.  After a year and a half of virtually no contact, my husband decided to do whatever it took to put our marriage back together and to make our marriage work, almost unilaterally, and I followed suit.  But you just can't expect that kind of stuff to happen to everyone.  We also didn't have kids.  "Do you have any idea," I said, "what divorce will do to your kids?  Work it out.  Figure it out."

Amy cried a lot.  She's been through so much with Bruce.   Medical issues, religious crises, infertility, financial strains, everything.  She and Bruce are an interesting match.  Bruce is very bright, overly-educated, frum-from-birth, ex NY'er, a little cold, not very good looking.  Amy is model-pretty, midwestern ba'alat teshuvah, not hyper-academic, very warm and spiritual.  I wouldn't have put them together.  But I am pretty bad at matchmaking.  I tend to be very shallow about it.  Amy is taller than Bruce.  That alone would have thrown me.

I picked Amy's brain about IVF, and found out that she has been through hell-and-back to conceive and give birth to her kids.  It's funny, I never really thought of her as an overly strong person.  She comes off as a bit ditzy.  As I get older, I find more and more that many people are simply not whom they seem to be.  (What really throws me is that I am not whom I seem to be.)

Our coffee convo went on for hours, which was unusual because I'm not feeling very social these days.  I've been through months of medical testing, had enough blood drawn to create a whole new person, and I'm on a variety of meds that make me cry for no reason.  But I couldn't tear myself away from Amy, and she really seemed to need to talk.  My heart was breaking for her marriage and for what she's been through and for how hard she was working to keep it all together.  I wanted to help, but knew that I couldn't.

I've been so wrapped up in myself, more so than ever lately.  I've been slacking off on what little work I have, I stopped returning phone calls and emails from friends, and I haven't been to shul in almost two months.  I'm totally focused on this baby thing.  Dealing with all this medical testing and insurance issues is an all-consuming full-time job.  I don't have the emotional energy to deal with anyone else's stuff.  But there was Amy, pouring it all out to me.  I listened, I ordered more coffee, and listened some more.  It's funny; Amy and I are not particularly close but I find her very easy to talk to. 

I've been so narcissistic lately, I forgot that the rest of the world has problems too. 

Even more on babies


I've always thought that my life would make an excellent sit-com.  There are times when I simply pause, think about how things are going, and I just want to do a laugh-or-cry thing.  Mostly cry.

My family seems to provide an endless supply of material for The Web Girl Show.  My mother and siblings and extended family are a jumble of crazy, slightly self-centered wackies.  The are also well-meaning and generous to a fault, and I love them all to pieces, but they do make me insane sometimes.  Our current crisis is: what shall we name The Child That We Don't Have.

My Mom and siblings know that we are going to do IVF, because, well, I don't see why this is shameful (big difference to me between private and shameful), and they are my family. Understanding our need for privacy and the fact that I am currently being pumped full of mood-altering hormones, they are mostly staying out of it, except for occasionally emailing me some annoying article about assisted fertility or (equally annoying) asking how things are going.  But this week, my Mom called.

"I've been thinking about what you should call the baby."
"Mom, there is no baby yet.  There might not be a baby.  Can we not have this conversation now?"
"You need to think about these things.  There will be a baby, God willing.  Don't worry about that."

Good grief.

So if The Child That We Don't Have is a boy, his name is a no-brainer.  My Dad passed away several years ago and naming a son after him would be an incredible comfort to me.  No one expects me to do any differently.  My husband totally agrees.  My father also had a very nice name.  I sometimes think it would be weird to call my son by my father's name, because that when I say it, I think of no one but my father.  But I'm sure that will pass with time.

Given that if the The Child That We Don't Have is a male, his name is not really negotiable, I told my husband that if the The Child That We Don't Have is a female, he could pick the name (but I still retain veto power).  Truth is, most of my relatives that have passed away already have descendants with their names...same thing on my husband'sside.  Picking a daughter's name doesn't seem that urgent to me, as long as it's a pretty, meaningful, Jewish name.

Enter Mom.  Mom has a list.  A list of female, deceased relatives after whom we are not to name The Child That We Don't Have.  Some very definite ideas of female, deceased relatives after whom we are to name The Child That We Don't Have, in a very definite order (first name, middle name).  My Mom doesn't make that many requests of me, and I'm a little torn up about this.  I"m sort of pushing the whole thing aside, as frankly, the IVF issue alone has me so tense and nervous, that I'm not even thinking about the aftermath.  When I tell my husband about this, he laughs and says he hopes this will be our biggest problem.

I can sometimes visualize The Child That We Don't Have.  It's sort of genderless and very cute, a total love magnet.  I can picture myself lugging it to shul in one of those jogger strollers.  I can picture us bringing it home from the hospital, losing myself in being its mother, not giving a damn about work or the stock market or clients or bills.  I can picture skyping his/her little image to my Mom and in-laws.  I can picture a lot of things, when I let myself.  I don't often let myself.  Statistically, my chances of having The Child That We Don't Have are not too great.

I have never been so scared in my whole life.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Suicide is Painless

This is a different twist on a song that is a classic to those of you old enough to remember MASH. I think there is some sort of anti-American thing going on here, though I am too thick to get it. It's actually a really good, metally version.

Faithfully

This song reminds me of an old, lost love from a very sweet time in my life. Yup.  That's all I'm gonna say about that.

Always On Your Side

This song always made me think of my Ex when we were divorced. Probably a good thing. There's something really nice and poignant about this video. If I could be beautiful, I'd be beautiful like Sheryl Crow: just a quietly pretty, graceful older woman. Of course, her politics are incredibly stupid, but she sure can write songs.

Give My Heart a Break

An oldie but definite hottie.  I miss Monte Warden...he never quite made it as a singer, but is a very successful songwriter.  Here's to one of my favorite Texas boys.