Wednesday, June 29, 2005

On Kissing and Not Kissing and Other Stuff

I've got readers who kiss and readers who don't. Whatever the reasons, religious or lack of opportunity or desire. But when Miss Fish writes about kissing, you just want to go out and do it. (Or maybe that's just me. In any case, it probably has nothing to do with the little imp-girl she met while she was out the other night.) On the flip side, there's P-Life, going all passionate in his head. Turns out he met a girl who's also passionate in her head. And they're being all expressive and stuff: Today we did a meditation exercise and it turned out that – when I was supposed to see my soul on its own light I couldn’t at all – your soul was so attached to mine that I couldn’t see my soul on her own. Saw us together as one. Sounds scary to verbalize it... And in a completely different vein, Anna Broadway, "enjoying" (or at least answering) lots of reader letters after her appearance in the Rolling Stone article about the new virginity movement, gets down and chaste (and as always intellectual) about being Queen of the Castle and why other should be Master of their Own Domains. (And I don't mean domain names. Those can be purchased from GoDaddy.) And a roundup wouldn't be a roundup without visits to H, who's over at Slay Your Demons taking on weak online dating profiles; Annabel Lee, who's ducking the usual JDate inappropriates; and Ari, who almost took a homeless guy back to her apartment for some lovin' and warns mothers everywhere to hide their sons.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

"A Kiddush for All the Single Women in the World"

I love a good shidduch (match). In this case, the shidduch was between a post on Jewlicious and Daphna, a single woman in Jerusalem. The post informed the Jewlicious public about Reb Chaim's Worldwide Kiddush, a Shabbat kiddush happening in the Old City of Jerusalem in honor of all the single women in the world; through out the eating and drinking those in attendance would be "collecting" mazal-tovs (congratulatory wishes) and hopefully, those mazal-tovs would speed the arrival of soulmates for those who were single and searching. If you're skeptical, and this kind of event sounds like it was rife with potential to be overly heavy-handed and preachy, don't worry. Daphna was hesitant too. In fact, on Jewlicious, she anticipated that it might be "[k]inda like the space aliens call when they beam down eerily seductive signals from their giant space ships so that they can suck you up and perform bizarre medical experiments on you before they send you back to your real life in which everyone will now think you are nuts apart from a couple groupies in Roswell." (My response: who couldn't use a spiritual anal probe these days?) What happened? Read the full account on her blog. But suffice it to say that everyone won here: Daphna showed everyone how fearless and funny she is; Jewlicious gets the mitzvah points for making the shidduch; and Reb Chaim was able to facilitate a true spiritual encounter for a single woman. In Daphna's own words:

If it is true that I really do not know whether I believe that what I did today will have any effect on my finding a beschert, it is also true that I walked away with the feeling that, if anyone might have a shot of pulling such a miracle out of the pocket of heaven, Reb Chaim would.

Faith can be so elusive. It's nice to know that there are people reaching out and trying to make a difference in the lives of often-communally-neglected observant singles population.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Truth and Consequences (Salon)

Anna Jane Grossman, of BreakupNews.com, on truth and online dating in Salon:

Meeting people on the Internet was nothing new to [LA resident Jessica] Walters, who had spent her high-school years talking to people all over the world in chat rooms. "I remember feeling like people were pretty straightforward about themselves when we'd chat," she said. "They didn't seem to be pretending they were something they weren't."

So when the first guy who contacted her through JDate revealed on his profile that he was only 5-foot-3, Walters assumed he was telling the truth.

I think we all know where the story goes from here. And it involves the words "Oompa Loompa." (Not my joke; Walters's.)

Read the rest of the story here. (And who's that quoted on page 2?)

Friday, June 24, 2005

Friday Night Lights (new column)

When I was in college, Chabad made a huge push for Jewish women to light Shabbat candles every Friday night. If, for one solitary Sabbath, every Jewish woman in the world lit a pair of candles, the campus rabbi maintained, the unity and peace of that one worldwide act would bring the Messiah. Unfortunately, as long as I live in my flammable little studio, I’m going to have to live with the fact that the continued imperfection of our pre-Messianic world may be my fault.
In case you haven't seen it on My Urban Kvetch or in your own personal copy of The Jewish Week, here's the link to my new column, Friday Night Lights.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Blogdentity Crisis

Crisis may be too strong a word. But still, this blog has definitely changed. When we first began in April 2004, this was our purpose:

There are thousands of us out here, in the online netherworld, shopping for love and companionship over the Internet...We have experienced the joy of an email from someone we thought we found interesting, only to be disappointed in real life. We have encountered people who lied about their height and interests. We have chatted with people online who seem witty with the 10-20 second IM delay, and moved the relationship to the phone, only to find that their conversational skills are clearly lacking. We have wondered how to handle the delicate situations we encounter, and have sought advice from friends. Now, there's one more friend to consult... The goal of this blog is to record our experiences, good and bad, of men and women, serial JDaters and novices, from NYC to L.A. and everywhere in between. When the muse inspires, there will be features, rants and raves on related subjects. But this is your blog, your forum. Speak.

I vowed to myself that I wouldn't write about the people in my life, because it wasn't fair to present a story that was half theirs, but strip them of their voices. Besides, just because the chemistry wasn't right with me didn't mean that person wouldn't make a great boyfriend/husband/companion for someone else. The one time I wrote about a specific person in a blog post happened on My Urban Kvetch, and it was after a decade. And I had learned that he had just been married. And, just to be sure he was unrecognizable, I changed his name. I was extremely careful about such things. As weeks and months wore on, with my commitment to being a neutral zone open to all and that wasn't about me, content was less of the "speak and be heard" variety and more of a way for singles-columnist me to track trends and patterns in online and offline dating, with the occasional foray into "I can't believe he (or she) did this (or that)." But over the last several weeks, the content has changed*, and not in a manner that's totally comfortable for me. And these are posts that I may yet live to regret, because they, in some small way, violate that promise I made to myself when I started blogging. I'm still not naming names or specifics. I'm writing about the emotional fallout from such encounters or expectations thwarted, often in so abstract a manner that it can confuse people who don't know me. I write as myself, under my own name, of my own experiences. I'm trying to reinforce my emotional fortitude by being more open about how I feel, writing my way through perceived and actual betrayals of whatever magnitude, and letting that come through in my writing. And at the same time, I'm trying to maintain the reputations of the people who, often through no real fault of their own, made me feel this way. Because the inquisition is all internal, it's easy for me to write about what I'm feeling, and extremely difficult to push that "Publish" button. I've learned that with a few exceptions, people protect their own interests, and that's a lesson I could stand to internalize, in moderation, at least. I find myself wondering if this kind of writing does me a disservice, even if I don't name names. Perhaps it would be better to slay my demons privately instead of expelling my disappointments into the blogosphere to land in the ears of the similarly disappointed. Perhaps I should refocus the blog on observing the trends and contributing snarky commentary that keeps everyone laughing, and feeling like they've found a community. But then again, the emotional posts seem to have found their own audience, and a network of support has reached back from an Internet void to embrace me and provide me with desperately-needed comfort. I'll have to give this some serious thought. Your feedback, as always, is welcome. *The posts that inspired this one: The Single Gal's Survival Guide...Up Late...Emotional Jetlag

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Emotional Jetlag

From 0 to 60 to 30,000 feet, I’m back at 0. Back to the standard yellow alert that keeps me on edge, but not frantic. Back to normal. But somehow, normal seems nowhere near as normal as I remembered. I don’t know what I was expecting, but hometown doldrums are unaltered by departures and arrivals, by endless terminals that in name alone sound deadly, by points of origin and destinations that seem extremely different at journey’s start than they do after all the mileage has been accrued. It’s a short trip from optimism to pessimism, from elation to deflation. And during the trip entire, I’m still just me. As far as I've traveled, I've returned to a circumstance unaltered by my experiences. Still, it's a journey. I pass through insecurity, a checkpoint I am all too used to. Unshoeing myself, I feel my socks, the protectors of my tender toes, slip on shiny, happy linoleum. My footing unstable, I wonder if metal detectors can detect the slow, metallic hardening of a human heart. I dismiss the melodrama and put my shoes back on. Dragging a suitcase, now with only one wheel functioning, I wondered: did my bag travel on hope, with optimism contained just within a zipped compartment? Or was it despair that kept my carry-on rolling on, in the knowledge that to stop would result in paralysis? Then, the answer: hope and despair are too closely connected to separate. They are conjoined twins; one will die without the other. And that's why distance can make you sad and proximity can make you sadder: because the closer you are, the more your heart feels the once and future distance. In a wireless lounge, hope rebooted leads to some endless area of the undeveloped internet, where I am lost in the land of 404-filenotfounds of missed connections and opportunities. I can’t explain it away, argue it out of existence in front of a jury of my fears. I’m judge and defendant and prosecutor. Interpretation and reinterpretation are the soul purview of self, and the burden of justice weighs heavily. It's not just about him. Undoubtedly, the rawer, recent part of it is. But part of it is residual,--the infectious, previously latent remnants of the other disappointments that litter my mind, the other potentials who never actualized, never became anything of substance. Not fair to make him the lightning rod for decades' disappointment; still I feared his reaction like terrorism. Somehow I knew that unspoken, my meaning would sweep by him as airborne intangible; he'd judge the longing as irrational, nonspecific and dismissable--even amid protestations of my greatness, dismissing me in the process. Compared to war, hunger, crime, poverty, suffering, death…I know this disappointment is a luxurious indulgence, my grief only a whisper of a truer heartbreak: my caught breath and swallowed tears are hyberbolic nothing. But there’s no pretending that the sadness doesn’t go deep. Deeper than canyons seen from airplanes or betrayal or deceit or chasms of misunderstanding or relationships you overimagined. Back then, I took in the ambiguity willfully, like clich├ęs, or carbon monoxide. Part of me preferred to live with a desperate unstable hope in ambiguous silence. While uncertainty is torturous immobility, it also preserves possibility. In immobility, new wounds cannot be inflicted: past stays past, potential seems horizon-limitless, and futures seem more hopeful. Instead, I seized the reins, demanded truth. Received my certainty with a side of heartbreak. Here, where I am now, feels like a place of impossible and insatiable thirst—tired and irritable, I’m parched for contact. In some moments, hairline fractures in my heart belabor vital breath and it feels like I’m eroding. Now, having never begun, it's over. Lesson learned: that if you ask for nothing you get nothing. But sometimes, even when you ask, you still get nothing.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Florida? London? Israel?...All Jewtopias

That's right, everyone's favorite Jewtopians, Bryan Fogel and Sam Wolfson, are going international. According to the Jerusalem Post, in addition to the NYC and Chicago productions that are currently running, and the screenplay that's in development, the duo has plans to launch productions in Florida (a natural), London (alert the Bloghead), and Israel (where it will undoubtedly be greeted with mixed reviews: "it's hilarious!"... "it's a threat to Judaism!"). Now, if only they had a blog, they'd be really huge news... And this is beginning to inspire me to get back to writing my JDate musical...

Kosher Prom Dates?

Well, most of you already know about My Secret Yeshiva Prom. (Which, I guess, means it ain't a secret no more.) But although the event itself was a little underground, I'm pretty sure that everyone's date was Jewish. But according to this article in the Jewish Week, a Westchester area Solomon Schechter school (Conservative) announced that students would only be allowed to bring dates who were Jewish:
While the school saw the directive as a way to stave off interfaith dating, Bertrand [a student whose father was Catholic when her parents married] and other students at the Hartsdale school said it encouraged creating a “self-imposed ghetto” that could generate resentment and even stoke the flames of anti-Semitism. “It was intended to promote Jewish continuity, but instead it insults non-Jews, it insults Solomon Schechter students, and it doesn’t reflect well on the school,” Bertrand said of the Jewish-only prom policy, which remains in place today. Worse, she said, the decree might inadvertently prove racist. “Most people can pass as Jewish,” said Bertrand, now 18, noting that school officials would be hard pressed to determine at the door who was Jewish. “If the school was going to investigate students they suspected brought non-Jewish dates, the only red flag would be if someone was another race.”
And I was worried about bringing someone Conservative to my underground yeshiva prom...

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Week in Dating

This week has been a varied and interesting one for bloggers who date or post about the single life: Chayyei Sarah gets called back by a man. Really. It happened. But like I told her, it sounds kind of fishy, because that never happens in New York. So I have a call into the urban legends sites, just to be sure. Nice Jewish Girl (“34 and never been kissed”) posts an update on her struggle with Orthodox Judaism and her desire for physical and spiritual companionship. The Anonymous Blogger has a “dating emergency,” in which a woman writes him for advice. Read the post and his readers’ comments here. An anonymous reader shared info on “G-Spot,” the newest Canadian attempt to replicate the saucy success of Sex and the City. This info from TVTome is about episode 5, in which:
Well, that's it. Gigi's only doing Jews from now on. She doesn't care who they are - no one goes down on her unless they go to Temple! With Roxy's help, she takes matters into her own hands and enrolls in a Jewish internet dating site.
All of JDA's Canadian readers are invited to send their reviews of this series to me. Plus, is the old "When Harry Met Sally" adage true? Is it impossible for men and women to be friends without "the sex thing getting in the way"? Dr. Janice revisits the issue of friendships between men and women. Read the bulletin board postings and post your reactions here. And if you enjoy watching brides humiliating themselves for cash (and what red-blooded American singleton doesn't?), then you missed a bridal bonanza yesterday, as Bridezilla sponsored a contest in Times Square for brides to find a $50,000 check in a wedding cake. (How many Points is that?) Ah, dignity. No word if “cake-diving” is going to become a national pastime. This only would have been better if, during the cake-scavation, all of the brides’ bridesmaids had been on hand to beat the brides over the head with their own bouquets. (Not that I’m encouraging anti-bride violence.) Now that’s entertainment.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Interviewees Needed: Falling For "That Jerk"

Renatt Brodsky, a fellow freelancer, is working on an upcoming Glamour story titled, "Hate at first sight" - It's about women and how they ended up falling for "that jerk!." She writes:

I need quotes from women in their TWENTIES about their personal experiences with a guy who did something so unbelievable that they just can't believe they wanted to see him again and give him another chance. Like... insulted her, called her fat, vomited on her, tripped her, accidentally set her hair on fire... :) you get the picture. Here are some good examples:

"I thought RD’s accent sounded just like Forest Gump when I first met him at a work event, and he was everything I swore I would never date--he was a hunter, drove a pickup truck, and liked chicken-fried steak. Still, I thought he was cute and a few days later we were emailing and talking on the phone. Because I didn't write him off, I found out that he was witty and smart. And even though my gastronomical parents are horrified, six years later, I actually like chicken-fried steak.” - Marcy John, 26, Dallas, Texas "I met this guy on vacation in Cabo San Lucas. He was acting like a total frat boy--talking really loud and telling jokes that weren't funny. Then he bought me a beer and spilled it on me! After the trip, we reconnected again back home in San Francisco over email (he was on an email list of people I met on the trip), and a few days later I reluctantly invited him to dinner with some friends. Everyone thought he was so great and said I was crazy if I didn’t go on a date with him. It turned out, though, that away from the beer and the bar, he was charming and down to earth. Forget Mexico, he turned out to be the great treasure of San Francisco." -Michelle Marlin 29, San Francisco, California If you have a great anecdote about a jerk you lusted after again and again--please email me the following information by Wednesday, June 8 2005, 9 a.m. 1. first and last name 2. age 3. city, state 4. email 5. number 6. your quote.

Please email her with any questions, and tell her you found out about it from Esther, from JDatersAnonymous...

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Up Late

When you're up late, you say and do things you shouldn't. You contact people you'd be better off without, at least in the short term. Because the interactions, long awaited, are never what you'd expected or hoped for. They fall short. And the disappointment scrapes off any scab over the wound, and you feel it all over again. You might have thought that you were on the road to recovery. But you feel as lost as ever. And all you want to do is sleep. But you can't. Because you're still clinging to the hope that the next time will be soon, and better than it was. And now you've done it. You've brought it on yourself now. It's fresh. And man, does it hurt.