Friday, April 24, 2009

And to add to the collection....

My sister gave me an REI gift certificate over 1 1/2 years ago. I kept on meaning to use it. Every time Kayla went to the States, she would remind me to that I have this gift certificate, and why don't I use it already, and have the stuff sent to her parents so she could bring it back?Every single time, I never quite got around to it. Once, I got so far as to look at the REI website at Kayla's house, on Kayla's computer with Kayla there to give me her parents' address. So close...and yet so far.

Today--miracle of miracles--I actually 1) went on line 2) picked stuff out 3) put it in my shopping cart and (this is the critical step I normally manage to miss) 4) ordered it. Bezrat Hashem, when Kayla comes home, she will bring me my REI goodies.

Lest you write this off as a minor acheivement, I should point out that it took me a full 90 minutes to pick out what I wanted. This has less to do with the abundance of choices on the REI site (though there is an abundance) and more to do with the fact that I really do not need anything. In the end, I bought a huge hydration pack and a purple balance ball. (The color is does not add any features but seeing how I love purple, I thought I would tell you about it). Anyway, the hydration pack is for the hikes I never go on and the balance ball is for the fitness program that I never quite get around to starting. I think you will agree with me that these are a fine addition to my theoretical running program and my ornamental work-out clothes collection.

On a related note, can I tell you that Kayla (aka-"disgustingly organized and together friend") is much better at watching Roxie the Diet than I am? She is even having me bring a Roxie-friendly dessert to Shabbat lunch. For my part, I have been neglecting Roxie to an outrageous extent and Roxie has informed me that she would like to go live with Kayla, because Kayla is nicer than I am. Sadly, I had to break it to Roxie that disgustingly organized and together friends do not need diets, because they stay in shape. As you might imagine, Roxie is simply devastated.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Yom HaShoah

Saturday night, I went with friends to see Defiance. After the movie ended, the four of us left the theater. Three of us raved both about the movie and the story behind it. How the hell did the Bielski brothers manage to pull this off? It is simply mind-boggling. The fourth member of our group was silent. Finally, she spoke. "I just found it difficult. You know, here we are, comfortable, safe…and watching a movie about the Holocaust. They really suffered…."

I know what she means. At least I think I know what she means. Oh hell, I do not know what she means. All I know is what I mean and what I feel, when I find myself wanting to say what she said. A movie about the Holocaust—the movie itself—is fiction. People do not die in the making of the movie. But the events on which the movies are based are not fiction. People suffered, horribly. People died, horribly. The world was quite simply wiped off the face of the earth. And now, some sixty-four years later, here I sit—well-fed, cosseted and protected—in my comfortable chair in my comfortable city in my comfortable life. In which, any time I want, I can choose to go to our quite elegant Cinemateque, where these events, the living, breathing hell that is the Holocaust, will graciously provide me with …entertainment?

Or is that too strong a word? The movie, after all, was not a documentary. Yes, the story instructs and yes it inspires and yes, it should be told but at the same time…they stuck Daniel Craig and his gorgeous blue eyes in there for a reason.

So I feel guilty. But it is not only that. I also feel very, very fragile.

I know a Holocaust can happen here. I know a Holocaust may happen here. I know this even without watching movies about the Holocaust. The movies just remind me. And honestly, I would rather not be reminded. I would rather not walk around for days and days with this knowledge in the front of my mind instead of at the back of my mind, where I normally try to keep it. I would rather have this be a sort of "theoretical" knowledge. As opposed to imagining my well-developed country, with its lovely buildings and smooth roads and full supermarkets, turned into a pile of rubble. As opposed to imagining myself desperately trying to hide from enemies and fighting some other starving soul for a scrap of bread. Telling myself that I would be noble and share when, in truth, I would probably just turn into an animal, like most everyone else. Do I really need that level of detail? Is it contributing anything to anything?

Is it not sufficient for me to just know, really accept, that it can happen here?

They did not accept it could happen in Europe. There is a scene in Defiance where Tuvia Bielski asks another refugee "what were you doing before the war"? "Studying" is the reply. "What were you studying?" "Music", she says, with a wry smile. They thought they were living in the type of world where studying music made sense.

We here in Israel are living in that type of world, but who knows for how long? Stability is a mirage. Safety is a mirage. It can change in an instant—the amount of time it takes for a nuclear warhead to fall. That is especially true in this part of the world, where so many of our neighbors want nothing more than to wipe us out. Can we depend on the rest of the world to defend us? The answer is to be found in actions. Sixty four years after the end of the Holocaust, davka on Israel's annual Holocaust Memorial Day, a brazen Holocaust-denier who has called for the destruction of the State of Israel was invited to give the opening address of the United Nations Anti-Racism Conference. In his speech, he once again called for our eradication.

That sounds like a resounding "you are on your own" to me.

How long can we hold the wolves off? How many close misses will there be before something hits?

I should point out that am not afraid. This is not to say that I am brave. Not at all. Apparently, surviving a bombing does not result in a better grasp of reality and/or statistics and I am just as stupid as the average Joe in my assumption that of course I would survive the deluge. I choose to allow myself this luxury of delusion. It allows me to survive the waiting—the constant gnawing knowledge that the veneer may be scraped off at any moment—without losing my mind and without living in fear. It allows me to accept reality, to the fullest extent that my mind can handle. It

And besides, I would still rather be here. I simply love living in Israel. I will enjoy living here as long as I can. I hope that this is the rest of my life. I hope my life, and Israel's life, is long. I will do what I can to try to prevent the worst from happening. But if it does come to the worst, I would rather go down fighting (even if my "fighting" is just being here) rather than sit crying, in my comfortable and safe armchair, far, far away.

If it happens again—and I know it can happen again—I will not be entertained by it.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Two Random Bits


I, probably like many of you, have watched Susan Boyle's performance on Youtube multiple times. Now, I have only one question. It is a rather mean and snarky question, but seeing how it has been tormenting my brain the past several nights, I feel that I have no choice but to share. As follows:

What the fuck is up with Simon Cowell's teeth? Am I the only one who find them to be a bit scary? Are they for real? Does he take them out at night? Does he paint them with white, Day-Glo paint before he goes out in the morning?

Thank G-d that this is off my chest! I feel so much better!


Conversation with Ellie, in which she tries to convince me to give online dating another shot. At this point, the closest I get is signing up on sites and then ignoring them, on the basis that I hate blind dating--to the extent that even thinking about it makes my stomach hurt. Even I have to admit that this is not the most effective method.

Ellie: It is not going to happen unless you try.

Me: I have tried—everything. Nothing happened. No one was interested in me.

Ellie: But that was before. You have the blog now. I keep telling you—it has put you in another place. (ed: I can confirm that she keeps telling me this. But then, she also insists that she had no idea I was funny until she started reading my blog.)

Me: I am the same person I was before!

Ellie: Okay, so maybe you had inner self-confidence, but ever since you started the blog, you have outer self-confidence. That is sexy. Think of it like…sexy underwear.

Me: My blog as sexy underwear. Very creative!

Ellie: Feel free to post it!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

And who is this Doug Weiss fellow?

Today, I went on a group tiyul (tour) of the archeological park at Caesarea and the detention-turned-transit camp at Atlit. There I saw something curious. In a corner of the main hall of the park--a building which served then as a receiving center--a glass-encased rectangular board hung on the wall. Names --grafitti style--were etched on the board. A sign next to the board explained that the board had been restored. It was displayed in honor of the people who passed through the hall.

Some of the names were in Hebrew. Some of the names were in this or another European language. Refugees--the remnants of European Jewry--caught as they tried to escape the graveyard that Europe had become.

But one of the names was completely different. "Doug Weiss. NJ (?), U.S.A.". Not European. Not a refugee. But distinctly carved into the board, nonetheless.

How and why did a nice Jewish-American boy with a nice, first-generation, born-in-the-United-States, Jewish-American name end up scratching up the walls of a British detention camp in Mandate Palestine? Half of me wonders if this were later, random vandalism. The rest of me thinks that there has got to be a great story in there, somewhere.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Mish Weiss

BUMPED...because you really should visit Mish's blog. And leave comments. But no nasty comments, please.

I do not know if I have mentioned this, but I LOATHE the chagim. Knowing myself as I do, and in particular knowing how much I do love to bitch, I have no doubt that I have brought it up at some point or another. But I am too lazy to look for the links. And besides, I do not have time--I have to clean my house for f**king Pesach. Which starts tomorrow.

I have despised the chagim for some years now. Thanks to my years of experience, I have the whole hating-thing down to a science. First, starting the month before the festive day, I go into moderate moodiness and/or depression mode. Over the course of the month, this slowly but surely escalates to "halfway-to-suicidal". I maintain the halfway-to-suicidal level of depression for the duration of the holiday season, punctuated here and there with random teariness and automatic jealousy of everyone I know who is in a relationship. Starting a few years ago, I added "skipping festive meals and services" to my despising-the-chagim routine. To spice things up a bit. And because I hate them too. As does Roxie, my diet.

Yes indeedy, a true beacon of light am I....

Right--so Pesach, as I mentioned above, starts tomorrow. I spent the day today being moody, short-tempered and feeling sorry for myself because pretty much everyone I work with is either married or in a relationship, and here I am alone and old enough and passed over enough that I no longer even bother to think "B'ezrat Hashem, next year, I will have a seder in my house with my husband". Because, how many times can you wish that, and then find yourself in the exact same position the following year, without feeling like a complete freier (sucker)?

Right, so I went through the day like this and then I thought to myself, "Gila, why are you sitting around feeling sorry for yourself? Nu, why not call up your friends, and let them help you feel sorry for yourself?" Is that not what friends are for? So I called one and it turns out that said friend was having the type of crisis that makes one say "Damn! Thank G-d I am single!" Which is a lovely sentiment, but--and you must agree with me-- clearly of no use whatsoever if one is looking to wallow in self-pity. Then I called CK, from Jewlicious. Who proceeds to tell me about another blogger, Mish Weiss. She was orphaned at age 12, has very little in the way of family, and now, at age 28, is battling leukemia. And therefore, from his point of view, I have no right to feel sorry for myself, because my situation is so much better. At this point I proceeded to chew him a new asshole because I hate when people go down that path. (My friends do that at times with me--"oh, I cannot complain because you have had it tougher than me". And that helps you how, exactly? ) curiousity was piqued. I swear to G-d, when CK described this to me, I thought it had to be a hoax. An orphan? A teenage mother who gave up her child for adoption? Stricken with particularly virulent leukemia? And all this to one person? Sounded like a soap opera.

As soon as I got home, I looked up her blog. Not a fake.

I do not get the impression that Mish is a big fan of sympathy, but prayers do appear to be appreciated. Please do send some up. From what I read on the blog, Mish needs a miracle to pull through this. But sometimes miracles do come. Ask for one.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Happy Bombing Anniversary to Meeeeee!!!!

I cannot believe it. So, here I am, puttering around this morning after my session of "pretend I am running but really am walking with some fast bits thrown in", and I realized "Hey, it is bombing anniversary season"! Kind of like Wabbit Season, but without Elmer Fudd. And without Bugs Bunny.

But that is easy enough to fix.

You see? Very simple, very easy.

So now that we are all sorted, I can get back to the original topic. Anyway, April 12th and Bombing Anniversary number seven are just around the corner and I have not yet started to plan my bombing anniversary celebration! Scandalous, no? If I do not show my appreciation, perhaps G-d will decide to take the anniversary back? Of course, given my form of showing said appreciation in prior years, from G-d's point of view, ignoring the day might represent a distinct improvement. Alas, from MY point of view, that would be no fun.

I am now off to scheme. And do my shopping. The two may or may not be related.

Monday, April 6, 2009

And I Should Care About This...Why, Exactly?

Hey there!

This is how Dana, the (apparently) extremely perky PR rep opened up her email to me. You know, as if we knew each other. I have no doubt that she sent a similar email with a similar opening to every other Jewish blogger on the planet. As if she knew them.

So, why was Dana the Perky PR'ist writing me an email? Because some big Hollywood players, for reasons known only to themselves, have taken it upon themselves to determine who are the biggest rabbinical players and the most vibrant Jewish communities in the US. * And I am supposed to be so excited about this that I will want to gush on about it in my blog.

Apparently, it escaped her notice that I am 1) Israeli 2) have been for some years now 3) have yet to write anything about the Jewish community in the US (because I do not live there and have only the vaguest of ideas of what is going on there) and 4) spend most of my time writing about bombings, life in Israel, Roxie the Diet , my Shabbat and other adventures and whatever other nonsense suits me. What can I say--blogging is how I relax. Cheaper than an alchohol addiction and less likely to result in body odor.

Moral: PR reps...please, do your homework.

Update: I cannot believe I did not think to add a link to this post, which is the ultimate in cautionary tales and should be required reading for any PR/advertising type who is thinking of using blogs as an advertising medium. (To clarify--I do not agree with a large chunk of Mo-ha-med's views, but I do love his blog. The man can write. And he thinks.)

*Knee-jerk reaction to this: Movie moguls crowning the rabbis and communities? In all seriousness, apart from the fact that they have money and success and we Jews tend to respect people with money and success...what is it about making movies that that makes them qualified to determine who is influential and which communities are vibrant? Is this the same type of logic that says that, because I went through a bombing, I should be listened to when pontificating on the security situation? I am talking out my ass, just like pretty much everyone else. Really, the only difference is that my ass is a bit more scarred.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Hints from Ellie-oise: Ellie's Guide to the Jewish Male

I preface with a correction. In an earlier post, I explained my basis for considering my friend Ellie to be A Woman of the World. As follows:

However, not only did Ellie live in Manhattan for many years, she also owns at least one pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes—the same type of shoes favored by the women of Sex and The City.
Ellie has since pointed out to me some serious errors in the above statement. First, she owns not one, but several pairs of Manolos. She also owns a few pairs of Jimmy Choos and a lot of Prada. So she is truly a woman of the world—she just wanted to make sure that her qualifications were properly established.

Last week, I published the post: Male, Female and What's-His-Story He Created Them, in which I described a fascinating (if highly irritating) third gender found wherever there are Jewish singles. In the comments to the post, a few men suggested that my account was, shall we say…a bit one-sided? And that there might be a female version of this creature—a What's-Her-Story, if you will. I suggested that perhaps one of the men would be so kind as to serve as a guest blogger, and elaborate on their theory.

So far, none of the men have taken me up on my offer. Ellie, however, did. In her case, she was worried that my account was not detailed enough. The What's-His-Story is only one of the many Jewish male varieties. The Jewish female needs a lot more information in order to safely navigate the dating world. Ellie has nobly offered to share her hard-earned wisdom, the theories she has developed over years of Living in the World, with the masses. Accordingly, we present yet another public service announcement: Ellie's Guide to the Jewish Male.

1) Jewish Gay: Not really gay and possibly not really male. Definitely Jewish. His male organs are strictly window dressing. Admit it—you know the type. He's got millions of women 'just-friends'. He never seems to have a girlfriend. He never seems to ask anyone on a date and if he does, it is a just-friends date. [Definition is 1) no touching, EVER and 2) they go dutch]. He has an extraordinary ability to squeal and giggle.

As an illustrative example, Ellie described to me a series of outings she once had—over the course of a few months— with a man she knew from shul. The meetings were often mid-day and on several occasions, the man brought another female friend with him. They always split the check and the entire relationship was strictly platonic. Ellie, naturally, assumed that they were just friends. It was only after she started dating another man, and the first man disappeared off the face of the Earth, that she realized that, in his mind, they were dating.

My question to Ellie: what differentiates the Jewish Gay from a What's-His-Story? Her answer: not too much. The key difference is that the latter gives off the impression of being interested in you. They flirt and so on—they just never follow up. Jewish Gays really are just friends.

2) Jewish Really Gay: He is really gay but he is really in the closet. We all know some.

Ellie does wish to emphasize that the "Jewish Gay" and the "Jewish Really Gay" should not be confused with normal, well-adjusted Jewish men who happen to be homosexual and who are secure in their identities and all that.

3) Commitment-Phobe: Just what it sounds like…but with one caveat. Even the most commitment-phobe man might have an epiphany somewhere between the ages of 38-41…generally 39-40. The trigger is the big four-oh. At that point, he might decide to put his bullshit on the back burner long enough to meet a woman, fall in love, get married and have a couple children. However, if he cannot get his act together, forget it. He is done. He may or may not spend the next five to six years whining about how he cannot meet the right girl, but really, he is done.

To clarify—the type whining Ellie is referring to here is what she calls "Seinfield-whining". For the non-TV savvy (like myself) Ellie defines Seinfeld-whining as: "stupid shit". For example, "she doesn't chew her food well" or "she doesn't use the right toothbrush". In short, the man breaks up with her for no reason at all. Here as well, Ellie provided an illustrative example. A man she knew broke up with a woman after a 10 month relationship. The reason? He decided that he did not like the way she smiled.

4) The Cohen: Commitment phobia with a twist. Like the standard Commitment-phobe, the Cohen's shelf-life is also until about age 40. However, unlike the run-of-the-mill, non-priestly Commitment-phobes, the Cohen does not have to fall back on Seinfeld-whining to justify his lack of staying power. His commitment phobia is all for the sake of a Higher Power. For those of you who are not Cohen-savvy, a Cohen—a member of the priestly class—cannot marry a divorcee, a convert or a fallen woman who has had sexual relations with a non-Jew. Unfortunately for the Cohen who misses the moment of epiphany, he really and truly may find himself shit out of luck because the older a man gets, the harder it is to find a woman who meets the standards. (Per Ellie, some of these men institute a "don't ask don't tell" policy in respect to the non-Jew boinking).

Please note that these limitations do not stop the Cohen from dating these ineligible women. He will enjoy their feminine charms, all the while proclaiming that he just cannot seal the deal. To his credit, Ellie reports that the Cohen tends to be very upfront and honest about this. (This is as per Ellie's interactions with Cohanim, though she has not actually dated any). The problem is that we women want a Hollywood ending and choose to believe that of course he will change his mind about this once he falls madly in love with us. He can't, and he won't. Moral: if he says he cannot marry you, believe him.

5) The Pathological Liar: The Cohen's evil twin. Unlike the Cohen, who is honest about his intentions, the Pathological Liar will lead you down the garden path. He says he can, he will and he wants to…but then has no follow up. I asked Ellie if this were not the same as the Commitment-Phobe? Her response: not exactly. A Pathological Liar has to be, by definition, a Commitment-Phobe, but a Commitment-Phobe is not necessarily a Pathological Liar. Put differently, the Pathological Liar has a PhD in fucked-up-ness while the Commitment-Phobe only has an MA.

[For those interested in this track, the Open University is now accepting applications for the fall semester].

So, with all this fucked-up-ness running rampant, how does one recognize a good man?

ALL those men are good men…just with a fatal flaw. Because—and Ellie asked me to emphasize this—she does not believe that all men are assholes and jerks. Apart from the Jewish Gay series, who never start at all, both the fucked-up good men and the non-fucked-up good men start off great. The difference is that, while the non-fucked-up good man has staying power, the others, due to their tragic fucked-upedness, simply cannot keep it up. And in this case, Viagra simply will not help.

So remember Ladies: It really is them, and not you.

And Gentlemen: Since I believe in equal time, my offer to host a male guest blogger who can present the male point of view remains open.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Revising My Goals

Remember my New Year resolutions? Well, I am having a problem with one of them.

As some background, I should explain my goal-setting method. Any goal must fit certain criteria to make it onto my list of resolutions. As follows:

1) The goal must be clear and identifiable. This is harder than it sounds. We all have general, amorphous goals: being a better person, being a better friend and so on. But …what does that mean? If you do not know where you are going, it is pretty hard to get there.
2) The path has to be tangible. What specific things can I do to get from A to B? Sometimes, the answer is "not a damn thing—you are fucked". In such cases, saying "I want to achieve X" does not constitute a goal. Rather, it is a wish.
3) The goal must include a time frame. Otherwise, there is nothing to stop me from just eternally procrastinating on making any progress towards reaching the goal. I mean, I will do that in any case. But with a time frame, I will feel guilty, as I should.
4) There must be a way to measure progress and ultimate achievement of the goal.
5) Finally, and most importantly, the goal must be achievable. Challenging myself is fine. Setting myself up for failure is less fine.

Anyway, I have been doing some heavy thinking recently and have come to the conclusion that I have a problem with goal number four: "Get in Shape/Make Myself Hot". Just so you know, this goal is a subsidiary goal to the larger "Have a Proper Mid-Life Crisis" goal.

What, you might ask, could possibly be the problem with this goal? Let us evaluate it, shall we?

1) The goal is identifiable. To me, getting in shape and making myself hot primarily entails losing a shitload of weight.
2) The path is tangible. If I eat less, eat healthier and/or lower calorie foods and work out more, I will drop the poundage.
3) I have a specific time frame. My midlife-crisis is scheduled for when I hit 40, September 2010. So I definitely have to be in shape and a hottie by then. (As an aside, can I tell you how much I hate the word "hottie"? Especially when it is used by ostensibly heterosexual, grown men to refer to themselves? What the fuck is up with that?)
4) Progress is measurable. Interim progress is measured as pounds dropped. Final goal achievement—achieving hotness—is measured by all the men that I ever liked and that ever passed me over in favor of my friends and/or other women (roughly defined as 99.99% of the men I have ever liked) being filled with regret and crushing despair because they missed on such a great opportunity.

The problem, of course is that the ultimate goal is not that achievable. Out of the pool of men described above….

1) Some are complete what's-his-stories
2) A few have since come out of the closet
3) Several are married. Even if they WERE stricken with regret, they can hardly tell me about it. And if they cannot tell me, well then, it is hardly measurable, is it?
4) A good number of them live in the US and it would require an inordinate amount work to track them down and visit them so that they could properly appreciate just how hot I have become. Especially when one considers that many of these guys may well fall into categories one, two and three.

In short, I realized that I needed to do some tweaking. So I have. Interim progress is still measured as pounds dropped. Final goal achievement—achieving hotness—is measured by being able to wear completely age-inappropriate clothing. (And no, wearing age-inappropriate clothing is not something I can do now. As my friend put it, when I was looking at one of her shirts that would qualify as such "I think one of your boobs would fit in there").

I must say—and I do believe that you will agree with me on this--that when it comes to setting goals, I completely rock. Not only is my new measurement factor EMINENTLY achievable (especially in this country, tacky, age-inappropriate clothing central), it also ties in beautifully with the "Have a Proper Mid-Life Crisis" parent goal AND with my wish to make up for all the wildness I did not engage in during my youth.

I will make sure to keep you posted on my progress.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Ladies in Waiting

What if I wake up someday and find myself 39 and single? I asked myself that question in a piece I wrote almost five years ago. I apologize for the melodrama in the piece. I decided not to edit it—in part because of laziness and in part because this is who I was five years ago.


I am one of the ladies-in-waiting. Who are we? We are the ones who are waiting for our Prince Charming to arrive. We are in our 30’s or 40’s, and much of what we do and much of our decision-making processes are based on the premise that we are going to get married. What social activities should I be doing? Activities where I can meet men, of course. What clothing should I wear? Clothes that will attract men! Clothes that might not find favor in the eyes of men, be it for reasons of religion, society or simple esthetics, are to be shunned. I am still living with roommates at 35? That's okay, any day now the right guy is going to come along and I will go to live with him. I have a dead-end job that does not pay much? No problem, because when I get married we will have two incomes. Besides, everyone knows that men do not want a woman who is too career-oriented. In the meantime, and to the extent each one of us allows herself before marriage, we live our lives, move forward, we dream and we wait.

We are waiting for…but we are also waiting on. Many an eligible bachelor has one or more ladies-in-waiting of his very own. These women are his close friends and take a proprietary interest in him. They will invite him for Shabbat, include him in their activities and plans, and listen to his tales of dating woes. They will not sleep with him (they are just friends), but they will provide all of the emotional support that he would normally get from a wife. Such a lady may ask herself "when is he going to awaken and open his eyes to me?" Why should he? She is already giving him everything he really needs. For his part, one cannot help but wonder: does he realize that each of these women, his friends are waiting for the day that he realize how foolish he has been and beg for her hand?

And yet, this is not as completely one-sided as it sounds. These men serve a certain purpose. While you certainly do not need a specific Prince Charming in order to be a lady-in-waiting—one can be, and many are content to wait for the mysterious, unnamed One—it does help to have a face to picture in the mind's eye. Having someone specific and concrete to wait for is somehow less frustrating than having nothing. Over the years, I myself have rarely been without a "one I yearn for"; the only thing that has changed has been the face I see in my mind’s eye when I daydream. Sadly, this sort of romantic fantasy is realized only rarely. What normally happens is that one fine day, the man meets some cute young thing ten years his junior, and his ladies-in-waiting dance at his wedding to celebrate their being replaced. (The new wife, of course, will frown on future close contact).

The first time I really considered the long-term ramifications of the role I was playing was when I went to a Shabbaton and spent a weekend in the close company of several older ladies-in-waiting. They scared me. They were in their late 30’s or early 40’s and still dressing in their comfortable loose, flowing dresses—the type of clothing that make young girls look fragile and innocent and anyone over 30 look dowdy and neglected. They were perfect companions to the men there: attentive, interested, smiling and very agreeable. Here and there two women would compete for a particular man's attentions, but it was discrete. (Heaven forbid a man think you aggressive). One woman appeared to be the lady-in-waiting of one of the men there and she put up a fierce defense of her turf. Her speech was peppered with references. Remember when we went to this place, Dan? Do you remember when we cooked that meal? I think I was allowed to speak with him once…or maybe twice. On Saturday night we all went home. I was in a state of trauma. For weeks and months afterward, I said to myself: "I will not be like those women".

But what if I am like those women? What if I wake up someday and find myself 39 and single? In some ways, this is a concept almost too bizarre to consider. Of course I will get married! From my earliest childhood, I have assumed that I would get married. Virtually all women grow up with this assumption. Marriage is the center of our existence, even before we are old enough to date. Our parents, our friends, our culture and our faith teach us to believe both in the inevitability and the necessity of marriage. Marriage will make me whole, marriage will make me a real woman, and marriage will bring me joy. Although the promises society makes are too sweeping to be considered reality, I really do believe in the institution of marriage. The whole Jewish concept of two halves of the same soul being re-connected under the chuppah, the wedding canopy, strikes me as beautiful, romantic and true. I would love to meet a nice guy and settle down. But again, what if I do not meet someone? It is a demographic fact that there are more single women than single men. It is inevitable that some of us are going to lose the dating game. What if I am one of the losers?

Fortunately, I do have positive role models. There is my friend Stephanie, who at 38, decided to have a child alone. There is my friend Gabi, who has neither husband nor children, but who has had a career full of travel all over the world. Now in her 60's, she has friends everywhere and more style than the average woman 30 years her junior.

My most important role model is my Aunt Pearl. She did it all and she did it with flair. She supported both herself and her mother, was an accountant when women were not accountants, and lived on her own when nice women did not do that. She spent weekends managing vacation ranches in the Catskills because she liked horses and spent her winters on ski vacations in Europe because she loved to ski. When I was growing up and I would see Aunt Pearl at family gatherings, she was always doing something: planning a trip, going off to her vacation house, volunteering with Hadassah or acting in community theater. She never had kids of her own, so she adopted everyone else's, and now, at 75, she is the accepted family matriarch. Aunt Pearl’s act—that of the successful career woman with diverse interests— is the one I am most likely to follow, and in fact am already following. In some ways, this is a tragic fate. People love to criticize successful single women. If I never marry, I know that I will spend the rest of my life being condemned as cold, unfeminine, selfish and self-absorbed. That is pretty rough. However, it is much better than the alternative. The alternative is to remain a lady-in-waiting and to spend my life waiting for a man to start it for me.

In the wake of that disastrous weekend and my subsequent resolution that I did not want to be one of those ladies, I made up a motto for myself to get myself going. Change your fate, and if you cannot, than change your mind. Accept your fate, whatever it is, and decide that it is not the worst. This may sound really good, but I have to admit that putting it into practice has been brutally difficult. Changing my mind is equivalent to accepting, really accepting, that I may not get married. Not just saying the words, not just crying to my girlfriends but really accepting and believing that I may spend the rest of my life alone. I may never stand under the chuppah. I may never find a man who loves me. Often I find myself stuck for months at a time. I cannot let the dream go. Then I get angry with myself, and plagued with guilt. With the bombing, I was given a second chance at life. G-d could have killed me off right then. He did not. How can I, having received such an enormous gift, then possibly choose to live my life in a way that makes me miserable? How can I not choose joy? Unfortunately, I can beat myself up for days, weeks or months, but guilt will never get me going. What finally does the trick is fear. I go back to that weekend. Do you want to be like those women? No? Then you have got to let it go.

Let it go. I will not spend my life waiting. I will not wait for a man to come and support me; I will make sure I can support myself. I will not wait for a man to buy me a house; I will save my pennies and buy one myself. I will not choose my activities based on the number of men there; I will do those things which I enjoy. I will not sit around and let my ovaries rot; I will have a child myself. Most of all, I will not hang around any man I am secretly in love with, waiting for him to wake up and want me. If I cannot let go of my romantic yearnings then I will let go of the man. If he wants my emotional support, let him marry me. That is what a wife is for. (Forget about sex—it is not about sex).

At the same time, I am aware of the pitfalls. I see myself as similar to a recovering alcoholic, who must decide each and every day not to drink, and for whom each day the decision is slightly different. My drink of choice is longing, and my decision not to drink it down is very different today at age 33, when there is still a chance that maybe something will happen, than it will be if I really never do find anyone, and age 70 finds me still alone. How will I make the decision not to be sad when I am, in some ways, a failure? How will I stay strong when faced with this truth: out of all the women in the world, I am one that no one could fall in love with? I do not know how. I can only hope that if it comes to that, I will be wiser and stronger by then.

For now, at least, slowly but surely, my mind is changing. I am not giving up but I am going on. If G-d decides, after all this time, to send me my beschert, my intended one, I will be joyful beyond words. But if not, I will also be joyous. As it is written in the wedding blessings: joy, singing, pleasure and delight. גילה, רינה, דיצה וחדווה . I can and will have these too. I am a lady waiting no longer.


Thirty-nine is now six months away. I am still single. What can I say for myself? I do not have roommates. I have a full complement of kitchen toys. I have a good job—though the truth is that I had one then, as well. While I do have the occasional obsessions about this or that What's-His-Story, for the most part, I am not waiting on anyone in particular. I live where I do and do the things I do based on what I want out of life and what I want to do—what pleases me—and not based on where I can meet men. I did consider having a child on my own, but finally decided against it. There are many reasons, but the key one is that I simply do not want children badly enough. So this is all good.

What is less good? I still get sad, at times. It would be more, but I keep the emotions in check by studiously avoiding dating sites and anything else that will force me to think about the whole issue of rejection. (Hard to tell if this should be considered healthy behavior or self-defeating).

And finally, I am (alas) one of those dowdy spinsters. No flowing dresses, but I do have lots of extra pounds.

But THAT is something I can do something about. Roxie the Diet has been making a comeback….