Thursday, December 29, 2005

JDA Presents: The Year in Blog Posts

At today's meeting of the JDaters Anonymous executive staff, one of the regional managers suggested that we do a Year-in-Review post. Everyone thought that a year-end wrap up was a good idea; then there was some discussion of whether this post should contain strictly twelve posts, one from and representing each month, or whether it should represent the favorite moments--the gutbusting and the heartwrenching--from posts over the last year. The latter plan won the majority vote. But we still gave it to the interns to research, so if you don't like the posts they selected, feel free to suggest your own favorites in the comments section. In any case, here's to another year of community support for all singles everywhere, and the married friends who love them... Best Post That Didn't Garner a Single Comment You Say Neato, Check Your Libido (January) Best Post Advocating Alcohol as Social Lubricant Why Don't We Get Drunk and... (February) Best Post Title Overtly Stolen From Hilary How You Got Here (March) Best Discussion of How Intended Compliments Can Land in Others' Ears as Insults You're Great, But I Don't Want to Date You (March) Best Post Based on a Visit to a Frumteens Website NEVER NEVER NEVER Trust a Boy (May) Best Recovery Plan for Disappointment Due to Unrequited Affection Single Girl's Survival Guide (May) Best Post Wondering About the Meaning of Bloglife Blogdentity Crisis (June) Best Non-Linear Post That Is Most Likely to Go Over People's Heads Refraction (August) Most Direct Inquiry into the Issue of "What Does He Mean By That?" Given Up on Dating (September) Best Exploration of the Possibilities for Why He's Not Calling The Vanishing (October) Best JDA-Originated Blog Idea and Accompanying FAQ Sheet Announcement of the New Mars & Venus Go To Shul Blogcarnival (December) New Year's Resolution Least Likely to Stick in 2006 Epistolary Esther (December) Cheers, everyone!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Epistolary Esther

This may seem self-indulgent, but I just realized that I am an amazing letter-writer. I say things I might never be bold enough to say in person (although I find myself growing bolder as I get older, which could be argued as both a positive and a negative), and I phrase things carefully, deliberately placing words in a way that would take others weeks. I do it in minutes. It comes naturally to me. The epiphany of epistolary prowess itself aside, I have also come to realize that I've been wasting some wonderful letters on the wrong people. You could write or perform in the best play in the universe--a brilliant amalgam of pathos and inventive genres--and if there's no one in the theater, it's just the tree that fell in the forest and was never perceived to have made an actual sound. So in a month marked by expressions of regret and half-intended resolutions not to repeat mistakes, I find myself crafting a challenge for the next twelve months: not to waste epistles on the unreceptive, or well-fashioned words on ears that resist their cadences. Letters will still be written, within the confines of my journals or eternally ensconced within drafts folders, because in most cases, the writing of such missives is an emotional purge for a wounded heart; sending them into the world yields unsatisfying responses, if any at all. A resolution so declared will likely be transgressed within a few weeks. But if I manage to resist that long, perhaps that's hope that I'll be able to kick the habit, for good.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

"Frumster's Extreme Makeover?"

Didja hear? Frumster's going beyond the frum in its name:

“Unaffiliated.” “Secular.” “Synagogue=Never.” With many JDate members describing themselves with this level of observance, daters who wanted to create a Jewish future with their bashert were for a long time simply out of online dating luck. So when Frumster barreled its way onto the scene four years ago, it aimed to fill in the observance gap for frustrated online daters and create a pool of religious singles — essentially, putting the “Jewish” back in Jewish online dating.

[...] this month, Frumster announced a milestone: In four years, 500 members had met and married; by the Dec. 15 gala event celebrating the 250 couples, the number of matched members had grown to 520. Over 55 percent of those relationships had been initiated by women (or were so remembered in the “exit interviews” that Frumster conducts when members match). Sixty percent of the matches were between people older than 31. In addition to these encouraging statistics, the milestone has spurred a media push: while continuing to serve its Orthodox population, Frumster is responding to the call of the non-frum, extending memberships to all “marriage-minded” Jewish singles, and tweaking the membership process accordingly.

The rest of my new Jewish Week singles column is available here.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Mars & Venus Go to Shul: The New Jewish Singles Blog Carnival

JDaters Anonymous is pleased to announce a call for entries to our new Carnival:
Mars & Venus Go to Shul, the Carnival for, by, and about Jewish singles. Submissions now being accepted in four categories:

Mars & Venus: Men and women try to understand each other You Don't Look Like Your Picture: Everything online dating (no real profile names or numbers, please...) Separate Seating: The religious life of the single Jew Apocrypha: Everything else outside the canon

DEADLINE for the premiere, January 2 issue is December 30.

Have more questions? The M&VGTS FAQ Sheet has your answers...


Q: What's a Carnival?

A: Are you serious? You're a blogger and you don't know what a Carnival is? Basically it's a recap/rundown of posts from different blogs on a certain subject or theme. Need more? Go here and read this.

Q: Esther, why start a Carnival now?

A: Life's a Carnival already. And being single sometimes seems like a Ferris Wheel, with highs and lows, but ultimately no progress. Having stumbled on the metaphor, I viewed it as a sign. Plus, with a new year coming and with My Urban Kvetch getting lots of play, I thought JDaters Anonymous hosting a Carnival would be the perfect way to start 2006.

Q: I'm not religious. I once pureed a Big Mac with a glass of milk and dipped my shrimp in it. I go to shul on High Holidays or not at all. Actually, I'm not even sure what shul is....Can I submit?

A: Absolutely. If you're Jewish, and your Jewish life in any way impacts the way you live single or date, you're welcome to submit a post to this Carnival. Of course, we will have to circumcise you. (Even if you're a woman. We have our ways. Mostly through metaphor.)

Q: I'm not single, but I have ideas and thoughts to share on the nature of single life, dating, and the impact of religion thereon. Can I submit?

A: Thereon? Are you from another century? Who talks like that? But seriously...since when have I ever denied a fellow Jew a platform? Submit your post for review and if it's entirely inappropriate, you'll hear from me.

Q: Do you really need four categories?

A: Come on: four cups of wine is more fun than one cup of wine, so four categories is--heck, you do the math. Because we all know I'm not going to.

Q: Did you know that the word Islam means "submission", so when you're calling for submissions, you're really calling for "Islams"?

A: Um, no. In fact, maybe anyone calling for "Islams" is actually calling for "submissions to a blogcarnival," didja ever think of that?

Q: Hey wait a minute...if this is the first time you're announcing this Carnival, how can there already be a list of Frequently Asked Questions?

A: Very good, you're very clever. Now go back to your own blog, select a post and submit it to me via email at esther.kustanowitz at gmail or via the handy dandy submission form at the BlogCarnival site...deadline is December 30, so we can ring in the new year with a brand new Carnival...

Sunday, December 18, 2005

JDaters Anonymous Open Forum: Comfort Zone

Today's topic: A friend recently asked me why women were "so afraid to leave their comfort zones." Living in a major city and attending a graduate school, he would meet women who were unwilling to take the chance of moving somewhere else, an opportunity that he himself hoped to embrace in the not-too-distant future. These women were natives of the city or its suburbs, with family under an hour away. These women had established themselves professionally and within their community. But when they asked him where he was looking at internships, and he rattled off a list of city names that would require air travel to get to, they became emotionally closed off and wouldn't return his phone calls. Do people (and let's make it gender neutral here, at least in the question) limit themselves by not extending their search for a mate beyond their immediate vicinity? Can people be faulted for wanting to stay within the lives they have created for themselves? Can they reasonably expect that the perfect person is going to appear and assimilate into their life, if they're not willing to be the one who assimilates into someone else's life? Or is it more reasonable to limit your search to the pool of people most like you, most likely to stay with you in your comfort zone? Is taking a leap of faith--or taking a chance on love, no matter where it takes you--a journey that everyone can and should take?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

JDate and the Single Robot

Ben Baruch, the creator of the ShaBot ShaBlog (as well as of the robot-based comic strip ShaBot 6000) recently found himself rejoining JDate after a long absence. (We've all been there, 'bot.) He noticed, as we all have, the site's shiny new packaging; in addition to the HotListing option (which he notes, must be broken), he notes: "There is also a quirky Instant Message system that apparently allows you to send a one-way message to another member while you sit and stare at the screen for a long time, but get no response. It's good fun." But Ben's having some trouble with communication. Not from his end. The boy can write, and tries to connect with women whose profiles he finds appealing: "I try to show genuine interest by composing highly personalized messages instead of resorting to a generic stock letter. My sorrowfully ineffective method has been to start with a humorous reference to their profile, to show I was actually paying attention." That's what we want, right, ladies? A guy who's read our profile and is smart/witty enough to craft an intelligent/humorous response? So what's the problem? Is it that he lives in Brooklyn? Are his jokes too clever? Too sarcastic? Do JDate ladies hear the word "cartoonist" and think "unemployed, living in mom's basement"? Or are none of the women he's written to actually paying members? Or maybe it's that all of his essays seem to be in the approval queue at Customer Care... I give up. Ladies, if you've gotten an email from this man, do us all a favor and respond. Thank you.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Def Chat Room Poetry Slam

And now, introducing a new JDaters Anonymous feature: poetry based on comments made in the JDate chat room... Tonight's post...(actual comments in italics) I Always End Up at Weddings in Vancouver Where ever I go, I always end up at weddings in Vancouver Where ice forms on fingertips and cools the chambers of my heart On the other hand I expect weddings in Vancouver to be scenic But tomorrow, I have another date with another guy who wants to go out for hot cocoa A guy needs to be a man go out for vodka martinis or anything alcoholic in nature at night But in daytime, I think: hiya...howdy...anyone from NYC? And wonder... does anyone have a good recipe for felafel balls? yeah...the arabs. LOL.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Set in Type

Recently, I had more than one conversation about "types," as in "s/he's not my type." In this context, it's not about "I only like hedge fund managers" (although sometimes it is). When you say "type", it's all about physical type. "I like blond guys," or "I like thin girls," or "I'm not attracted to Sephardi men," or "I'm into petite women." Thinking about my past relationships, I am unable extrapolate a single type. I'm sure that my single sisters do have "types" of guys they'd prefer to date, like an Amazon wishlist of items they've ranked in order of which they'd like to receive first. But it's only men who I've heard say, "well, she's not really my type, so I don't think I'll call/write/email/contact/go out with her." Before you men get your Brokeback Mountain Underoos in a bunch, let me say that there were one or two JDate profiles/blog entries by men that pissed me off inspired this post, and I acknowledge (as I did above, hello...) that women do it too. But I began wondering if maybe men (and ok, women too) need to be a little more flexible about physical type. Especially when considering a first conversation or a first meeting. What do you guys think? Can we be attracted to people of varying physical types or are people really "set in type"?

Chat Room Poetry

And now, introducing a new JDaters Anonymous feature: poetry based on comments made in the JDate chat room... Tonight's post...(actual comments in italics) I Always End Up at Weddings in Vancouver Where ever I go, I always end up at weddings in Vancouver Where ice forms on fingertips and cools the chambers of my heart On the other hand I expect weddings in Vancouver to be scenic But tomorrow, I have another date with another guy who wants to go out for hot cocoa A guy needs to be a man go out for vodka martinis or anything alcoholic in nature at night But in daytime, I think: hiya...howdy...anyone from NYC? And wonder...does anyone have a good recipe for felafel balls? yeah...the arabs.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Get a New Plan, Stan

To: The guy who sang "Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover" in the JDate chat room at midnight From: JDaters Anonymous Re: Your day job Don't quit it. But a gold medal for bravery, truly. Word to the wise...a cappella is not your genre. Try karaoke, you'll like it... /jda

"Hooking Up" Wants You...

Remember "Hooking Up," the ABC NEWS documentary series about online dating in the big city (NY, that is)? Well, last night, I met two of the women who are casting Season 2. They were supercool themselves, and I volunteered to help them find some great potential's not even close to the show "Blind Date," which is kitschy and mean-spirited (even if it is gut-wrenchingly hilarious at times)--it's a much less invasive sort of camera, and you get a sense for what the people really are experiencing. Here's the blurb about what they're looking for, and if you email them, let them know I'm the one Hooking you Up...
Are you ready for the dating experience of a lifetime??? ABC News is casting for the next season of " HOOKING UP," last summer's hit documentary series about online romance, dating, sex and relationships set in and around New York City. We are looking for outgoing and articulate women and men, straight or gay, ages 20-40, living in or near (and primarily dating in) Manhattan, who are currently internet dating… or extremely eager to try it. Let our cameras follow your online dating adventures!!! For an application or more information, please email as soon as possible, like now! (We've got seriously tight deadlines… and you've got some serious dating to do.)
Have fun, and maybe I'll see YOU on television...

"Forever Friends" (The Jewish Week)

An excerpt from my new JW column, titled "Forever Friends":
[...] It’s not that platonic, opposite-sex relationships don’t exist. But they’re complicated. Some “Forever Friends” stick around, hoping patiently that their platonic pal will someday see the romantic light, but this may turn out to be a painful mistake. “It’s like dating a man who is already taken, hoping he’ll leave her for you — it’s not the healthiest of beginnings,” says Julia, 28. Others find comfort in the rewards of solidly platonic friendships. “Once you grow closer to someone as a friend, the love you have grows more into a sibling type of love,” says Rachel, 24, “Soon you become so attached as friends that the attraction is almost completely forgotten. You end up knowing them so well it’s impossible to ‘like’ them any longer.” Sometimes that works. But when yearning deepens, friendship becomes impossibly painful. Unless other romances intervene or the love-stricken party accepts the impossibility of progress, feelings can continue, leading to soulful declarations met by disappointing reaffirmations with parenthetical, unvocalized caveat counterparts: “I think you’re great (but not great enough for me),” “You’re going to make someone (else) very happy,” “I don’t deserve you (I deserve someone better),” and “You know we’re better as friends (so I don’t have to tell you that I don’t think you’re all that attractive).”
Read more online, here.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Random Dating Thought of the Day

An estimated 75 percent of the profiles I click on on JDate are Geminis. What does this mean? That Gems are more likely to use online dating, or that I'm more attracted to Geminis, even through only a photo and a few lines of text?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Booze, Buses and Bodacious Booty

A reader sent me a link to this article, which tells the tale of a couple who, praise Hashem, met at the ripe old age of 22 through a Federation event, thereby, thank G-d, avoiding the angst and agita of remaining single into their early twenties. Yes, that's right. Finally, a story we can all relate to.

Amanda Glincher, 22, says that even among other Jews, she has often stood out as very Jewish. Growing up she attended South Peninsula Hebrew Day School and the Orthodox synagogue Am Echad. Her family kept kosher, and often attended shul. “All the guys I dated on this coast were Reform,” said Amanda. “They would eat cheeseburgers…. in their home... on their own dishes!” Jacob Orrin, 22, grew up on the East Coast and attended college at Rutgers University, finishing his degree at San Jose State. “On the East Coast, you’re stumbling over Jewish people,” Jacob said. “Here, there’s really few opportunities to meet people.” Especially, observant Jewish girls!

Ooops! Ouch! What was that? [Esther looks at her feet.] Sorry folks, just stumbled over another Jewish person. Back to the story.

Both Jake and Amanda were busy dating one after another Reform, incompatible Jewish singles. Jake had gone to a few cocktail parties hosted by the Silicon Valley Young Adult Division of the Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley but hadn’t met anyone yet.

What? A few whole cocktail parties? And still no one?? The horror! But fear not. Liquid courage is on its way.

Although she had been invited by friends to other events, Amanda had been avoiding SVYAD events on purpose for several months, “I didn’t want to hang out with all the young and desperate singles,” she joked. But one evening, Amanda agreed to accompany a friend on SVYAD’s “Booze Bus” up to the Latke Ball in San Francisco. It just so happened that Jake would also be on the bus that evening.

“I walked to the back of the bus where the alcohol was and I said to Jake, ‘you’re too tall to be Jewish,’ and he said, ‘you’re too blond to be Jewish,’” recalls Amanda. The next day Jake called Amanda for a date. But the first night out together was far from love at first sight. “I decided he was creepy and we didn’t like each other,” Amanda said. But several months later, one of the special needs children that Amanda works with through the Chabad sponsored program Friendship Circle, told her about his amazing Hebrew teacher. Turns out, the little boy was talking about Jake. Right around this time Amanda’s parents were planning her little brother’s bar mitzvah and were looking for a kosher caterer. Amanda remembered that Jake was working in catering and she used the opportunity to call him.

That brazen little hussy...calling a boy. When I was a girl, we didn't call boys, or talk to boys, or sit in a parked car with a boy...

Three weeks later the couple was already talking marriage. Their wedding is in September. Why so quick?

“I’ve been on a thousand dates,” said Jake, “and when you know it’s right, it’s right.”

He's been on a thousand dates. Yeah, Jake. Me too. No, y'know what? I've been on, like, a jillion dates. So there. (OK, so maybe it's closer to twenty. But if Jake can exaggerate, so can I.)

Seriously, hope these crazy kids can make it work; built on a foundation of boozing and bussing and with the involvement of Chabad and Federation? Two Jewish organizations? Uh-huh...should be great!

"Online Dating": Another Reader Responds

A reader, in response to my column on internet dating, writes:
I just heard from a Jewish dentist who is either .....(after seeing my photo)...either hot to trot, smitten, married or all of the above. He gave me his cell phone # and wants me to call him ASAP. Another joker was smitten on the phone then disappeared for a week....never called back, but kept IMing me and finally asked me out for a drink. When I said I dont' drink and would prefer to meet for a casual lunch....he got huffy in a hurry then IMed me again and said he'd buy me a soda (since I don't drink). Another beauty bought me a lovely dinner then said he'd call......he didn't. He then IMed me several weeks later and asked me how I felt about safe fantasies and bondage!
And yes, I also referred her to JDatesGoneWrong...