Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Year Wishes

Penultimate is one of my very favorite words and thus I am always excited at this time of year to casually mention to anyone who will listen that, “Oh, by the way, Tuesday will be the penultimate day of the year.” According to, penultimate is defined as “next to the last” or “of or pertaining to a penult,” which, according to the same source, is “the next to the last syllable in a word.”

I’ve known the word for some time, but don’t know exactly where or how I learned it. The meanings of other words are newer to me and often come from the “A Word A Day” email that lands in my inbox each morning. From this venue I’ve learned the meaning of these and other words and phrases: “Toronto blessing,” “cibarious” (quite timely as I was in the midst of managing the "chicken, fish and veggie" function for the Union for Reform Judaism's Biennial convention) and “balbriggan." Still others come from experience. Last year at about this time, I was building my vocabulary with such lovelies as hepatitis C, biliary colic, cholecystitis and laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Suffice it to say, I’d have been perfectly happy to stick with “A Word A Day” to enhance my vocabulary.

In any event, that was last year and this is today. As we look ahead to 2009, I offer you these simple words (no dictionary needed) from a Jewish new year card that I received some time ago:
May the new year find you content with your life, happy in your friendships, and at peace with yourself.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Games Galore!

Every so often, friends and I get together to play mah jongg. Although a few of us use our grandmothers’ sets – and feel close to them when we do – we’ve definitely put our own spin on the tile clacking game, often adding Chinese food delivery (and sometimes margaritas) to the mix of bams and cracks, winds and dragons.

Last night, we played a number of hands, many of which were won by my sister. It was, however, the second game I’d played during the day – and wouldn't be the last (or even the penultimate one). The first was Bananagrams -- a wonderfully fast-paced word game that marries Scrabble together with Boggle and the comic page’s word Jumble – to which I was introduced at friends' “tacky holiday sweater” brunch yesterday morning.

As we were about to call it a night, my sister excitedly showed us Doodle Dice, a game for ages six to adult that she’d gotten for my nephew for Hanukkah. Before we knew it, we were tossing the dice and using them to try to create the stick figure pictures shown on the cards in the game’s “gallery.” When Doodle Dice ended with one of us a winner (having collected one each of the different color cards from the gallery), my sister, now on a roll, innocently asked the Midwesterner among us if she knew how to play euchre. After a quick tutorial, we were once again playing a game -- this time dealing cards, designating trump suits and collecting tricks.

Euchre? Bananagrams? Mah jongg? Doodle Dice? I’m game…

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Dating Buffet

Dating is sort of like a Sunday brunch buffet. You get in line with an empty plate, peruse the many choices and make a few selections. Fresh fruit, yogurt, cereal, scrambled eggs, potatoes, toast, bagels, sausage, bacon, blintzes, lox and so on… A few steps away are the chef-manned stations: made-to-order omelettes, waffles, and the carving board – roast beef, turkey, and ham.

Sometimes you’re lucky and the choices you make are appealing and you can’t wait to go back for seconds (and sometimes even thirds) on one particular item. Other times, not so much. From time to time, the offerings are not to your liking at all and when you get to your seat you find the eggs too runny, the lox too salty and the sausages cold. After a few bites you aimlessly push the food around until the plate (thankfully!) gets cleared from in front of you.

My personal favorite brunch item is a made-to-order omelette filled with cheddar and bacon, cooked until the eggs are brown and almost crunchy around the edges. A side of crispy breakfast potatoes and a steamy mug of decaf with lots of milk are the perfect accompaniments. Unfortunately, in last night’s buffet I ended up with a runny omelette filled with Swiss, two kinds of mushrooms, green pepper and tomatoes. Cherry blintzes on the side and a cold cup of black coffee rounded out the meal. Oh well…

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

You Saw it Here First

Nearly two months ago, I blogged about several walk/don’t walk signs in my neighborhood that display both signals at once. The malfunctioning signs I pass every day are at Second Avenue and 33rd Street (on both the northeast and northwest corners) and again at 39th and Third (also on the northeast corner).

Today, the New York Times picked up on the story. Read about it here, but remember, folks, you first read about it here.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Social Networking or Blast from the Past?

Last night while waiting in Tampa for our long-delayed flight to New York, my colleagues and I had plenty of time to talk about a host of different things. Among them was Facebook, the explosively popular social networking site. One among us claimed he doesn’t want to have to accept a “friend request” from someone from 20 years ago just because the person contacts him.

Ironically, sitting in my inbox at the time of that conversation was just such a “friend request” from Craig A. Cunningham, the 1982-83 editor-in-chief of The Lafayette, the oldest college newspaper in Pennsylvania. Because I hold a different opinion of Facebook than my colleague, I accepted the request and am now “friends” with Craig. Browsing through his many on-line photos from those oh-so-long-ago days at Lafayette College in Easton, PA, I was surprised to find a “tagged” photo of (a much younger) me with other members of The Lafayette staff. Another photo, this one of Monica Van Aken, brought back memories of her oft-talked-about weekly column, “Things that Matter by Monica,” a pre-cursor to today’s blogs. In one particularly memorable installment, Monica hilariously described her adventure in moving from one dorm to another in the middle of the semester, and the ordeal of packing and schlepping all her worldly possessions across the quad to make the move.

And, although I wouldn’t say that Craig and I were friends way back when, I was, as a lowly freshman reporter, always pleased to get a call from him or one of his deputies – usually on the hallway pay phone on the third floor of Ruef Hall – asking me to cover a particular story for the paper. Following a link on his website, I found digitized images of The Lafayette and, perusing the site, located the first article I ever wrote for the paper: “Committee on Religious Program Coordinates Events on Campus,” which appeared in the October 9, 1981 edition of the paper.

Today, The Lafayette has a website of its own, Craig Cunningham is an associate professor and director of the Technology in Education Program at National-Louis University in Chicago, and Monica Van Aken is head of the Milwaukee Montessori School. Me? I’m still writing about many things, including things religious…

Thanks, Facebook.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

From Dry Cleaning to Flight Delays

So I went to Tampa with only half my dry cleaning and now I can’t get home. We (four colleagues, two board members and I) were scheduled to leave Tampa on a 6:25 p.m. flight and to land at LaGuardia at about 9:15 p.m.

All was well when we boarded the plane, stowed our luggage in the overhead compartments and pulled away from the gate. Only when the pilot attempted to start the second engine -- and couldn’t -- when we were in line for take off did our troubles begin.

We returned to the gate, a maintenance crew checked out the plane and determined that a new starter was needed. Unfortunately, there isn’t one in stock here in Tampa. At that point, we unbuckled our seat belts, unstowed our luggage and returned to the terminal where we were given a choice: spend the night (on Delta’s nickel) and fly to LaGuardia in the morning or wait for one of two incoming flights (due to arrive near 11 p.m.), one of which will be reloaded with us and all our stuff for an 11:30 p.m. estimated departure.

We opted for the latter and here we sit at Casa Bicardi just beyond Gate 68 in Terminal E chatting, drinking and generally having a good time... Yes, of course I’d like to be home and unpacked, but all things considered, it could be a lot worse.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wow...Customer Service Lives

Last night on my way home from work, I stopped at the dry cleaners to pick up my order – nearly 10 pounds of wash and fold, four blouses that needed pressing, four pairs of pants, and a dress and jacket set -- so I could pack and be off to Tampa this morning. The dry cleaner is in the basement of my building and at 5 p.m., the guy tells me it’ll be here by about 6:30 or 7, depending on traffic. So I go upstairs and start to pack the things that I can. I go back down at 6:40, but still no clothing. At 7:20, I go down again, wait for the three people ahead of me to pick up their cleaning and packages and then it’s my turn. By now it’s nearly 7:30 and they close at 8.

“Is my dry cleaning back?” I ask.

“Yes,” he says, “but there’s a problem.”

The guy gives me the wash and fold, the four pairs of pants, the dress and jacket set and then points to the computer screen where the blouses are listed and says, “They’re still in the plant.”


After a brief exchange in which I use my “I am not pleased voice” to tell him this is totally unacceptable, I leave with the laundry that did come back, as well as a brochure for Prestige Valet and Concierge, the company that provides the service.

Back upstairs, I visit Prestige’s website and use the on-line form to send the following email:

On Saturday, December 6, I dropped dry cleaning and wash and fold in the Package Room at Kips Bay Towers. I was told that everything would be ready by today, Tuesday, December 9. However, four blouses did not get on the truck and they were "still at the plant" when I went to pick up my order. Unfortunately, I am leaving for a business trip at 7:30 tomorrow morning and now do not have the clothing to take with me. When I do pick it up upon my return next week, please be advised that I do not plan to pay for this order since the clothing was not ready when promised. Furthermore, I will no longer be using the services of Prestige Valet and Concierge and will advise my neighbors and friends to do likewise. Your service is unreliable and I will take my business elsewhere.

I left a similar message at the number printed on the company’s brochure.

A short while later, much to my surprise, my cell phone rang and the owner of the company was at the other end. In addition to a profuse apology, he offered to FedEx the clothing to me. Although this wasn’t a workable option for a number of reasons, he did offer – and I accepted – a $25 credit on my next order. Once that’s used up, I’ll reassess Prestige and decide whether or not to continue using their services.

In the meantime, customer service lives.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Hallmark Hall of Schmaltz

Last night, after I’d watched a few re-runs of House, I switched over to CBS for the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, “Front of the Class.” In it, we meet Brad Cohen, an idealistic, driven young man, and ride along with him and his family as he pursues a teaching career despite his struggle with Tourette Syndrome. And, even though I knew (as is always the case with the Hallmark Hall of Fame presentations) that everything would turn out all right in the end, the movie still made me cry…in scene after scene after scene.

And, never mind the movie. What about the commercials? Oh-my-gosh, did they ever turn on the waterworks. Considering that I’m the one who wants to fast forward from this season of holiday cheer straight through to Tu Bishvat, I’m somewhat ashamed to tell you that there I sat, bawling at the commercials. Whether it was the Hallmark kids unpacking the family's ornaments and remembering Christmases past or a grown daughter reading a schmaltzy birthday card from her reticent father, the evening -- thanks to both the movie and the commercials -- was a four-tissue affair, complete with smudged mascara and red, stinging eyes.

Bottom line, though, is that Brad Cohen – and his incredible moxie, gumption and courage -- stands as an inspiration to anyone who’s pursuing a dream that seems – for the moment – to be out of reach. Indeed, his story is one that deserves to be told.

Friday, November 28, 2008

You Do the Crime, You Do the Time

I admit it: I’m a Barry Manilow fan. Yup, ever since high school when Donna Joselson first introduced me to Tryin’ to Get the Feeling, the album with the sculpted piano player on the red cover, I’ve been a fan of this 70s crooner who just keeps on writing the songs. This One’s for You and Greatest Hits soon joined the vinyl disks that went around and around and around on the little phonograph in my room.

A year or so later, my parents took my sister and me to our first- ever concert -- Barry Manilow at the Garden State Arts Center, now the PNC Bank Arts Center. We had lawn seats, which is really a misnomer since there were no seats involved. Instead, we spread a blanket on the grass lawn behind the amphitheater – and it was BYOB (bring your own blanket). The folks a few feet away brought more than a blanket, but I, of course, had no idea about that sweet smell that wafted over to where we were sprawled out enjoying our pre-concert picnic. (Today, with the possible exception of my sister, none of us could any sooner get down on the ground for a picnic than we could get up from the ground at the end of the concert. But that was a long time ago…)

Even now (no pun intended!), all these years later, I sometimes find myself singing along (yes, I freely admit this) to Mandy, Weekend in New England, Can’t Smile Without You and I Write the Songs when they pop up in my iTunes player. Needless to say, therefore, I was maddened by an article in today’s New York Times about Colorado Judge Paul Sacco, who regularly sentences noise ordinance violators to one-hour, high volume Barry Manilow listening sessions.

Judge Sacco: sign me up!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Update: Ready, Set, Date!

Alas, it appears that I dissed 8minuteDating a bit too fast. Earlier this morning I received an email from them with news of a match. Included was contact information for Guy #5. Thankful for the possibility of further conversaton with him, I'll dash off a quick email shortly.

Right now, though, it's time to go watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.

For other musings about our many blessings on this important day, check out my most recent post on

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ready, Set, Date!

Last night a friend and I went to a “speed dating” event, the round-robin singles forum in which you meet eight different guys and spend eight minutes with each one. We’d registered for one for Jewish singles between 40 and 50 through 8minuteDating, which touts their events as “Eight Great Dates – One Fun Night!”

Well, not exactly…

For starters, although events are held only if a minimum of eight men and eight women register, at last night’s event, which had the minimum number of registrants, only five men and six women actually showed up. So, each woman had to sit out a round and, instead of meeting a total of eight men, we met only five. Likewise, each man met only six women, not the eight promised. It’s hard to believe that in this great city of more than eight million people, only 11 Jewish ones between 40 and 50 are interested in meeting other 40-something Jews of the opposite sex. Go figure…

With the ring of a bell, the first round starts and Guy #1 sits down across from me. He’s not bad looking and pleasant enough. He’s a corrections officer and we chat about various things. He’s originally from Long Island, has a sister who lives in Livingston and knows of the Eldridge Street Synagogue restoration from what he’s read in the press. When our eight minutes are up, the bell rings and he moves on. I, as instructed, jot down a few notes on my 8minuteDating “dance card.”

When round #2 starts, I’m the “Old Maid” and so the young woman who’s the event organizer comes and sits with me. We chat and those eight minutes fly by.

Round #3: Guy #2 sits down across from me. He’s French, speaks with a fairly heavy accent and seems otherwise non-descript. Frenchie’s an IT professional and proceeds to tell me all about anti-Semitism in France, but nothing much about himself. Eight minutes elapse and he’s gone. I fill in some details on my dance card.

Guy #3 introduces himself with a slimy handshake. Unfortunately, his personality matches and our eight minutes feel like 80. During that eternity, I learn that he’s a civil servant in human resources in Westchester, and likes to travel and work out. Thankfully, the eight minutes end and he moves on. Next to his name on my dance card, I write one word: slimy.

Then it’s my turn with Guy #4, who’s pushing 60 if he’s a day. He tells me he’s in commercial real estate, but before my eyes can glaze over, he (thankfully) picks up on the fact that I work for a Jewish organization. He asks me if I’ve ever heard of Central Synagogue. When I respond in the affirmative, he proceeds to tell me that he’s not religious and doesn’t keep kosher but when he attended an event there once, they had butter on the table when chicken was served. He thought that was totally disrespectful. We spend the balance of our time together discussing kosher style catering. Thank you, Biennial!

Finally, Guy #5... He’s cute and seems nice. Turns out that like me, he’s older than he looks and we marvel at our good fortune. Another civil servant, he works for the Social Security Administration and enjoys his role as a medical investigator. The conversation is easy and our eight minutes pass quickly.

With the last ring of the bell, the event is over and we all scurry home to sign in at 8minuteDating and indicate which of these people we want to see again. If a match is mutual, the company emails contact information to the “winners.”

Alas, I didn’t win any guys in this endeavor. The booby prize? A $5 coupon off my next 8minueDating event. Yeah, right…

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A New Camelot

Today marks the 45th anniversary of the end of Camelot. If you’re at least as old as I am, you know exactly where you were when you heard the news on that fateful day in the history of our country and of the world.

Me? I was in a stroller, says my mother, in Flair Chevrolet in New Brunswick, New Jersey. (The dealership is long gone and thus there's no hyperlink to the site.) I’ve never asked her, but because those were the “graduate school days,” my guess is that we weren't there to kick the tires, slam the doors or road test a 1964 Chevy Impala. Instead, in my mind she was sitting on a tacky, turquoise blue vinyl chair, absently pushing the stroller (with me in it) back and forth and back and forth, waiting for the grease monkeys to finish working on her old clunker that happened to be a Chevy. Had it been a Ford or a Chrysler, I bet we’d have been at one of those dealerships instead. I could be wrong, of course, but that’s my guess.

Anyway… that was the end of Camelot. Right there in Flair Chevrolet. Finished, the end, done.

At least for a while.

But now, a generation and a half later, it seems that maybe, just maybe, we are on the brink of a new Camelot.

Despite the dire financial news we hear and feel anew each day, the two wars on the other side of the globe that go on and on and on, and the graft, corruption and fraud that run rampant in the corporate and public sectors, I believe that we are in for a sea change. Or at least I hope we are.

Like so many others, I anxiously await the inauguration of our new president and a return to a leader of whom we can be proud. More important than our pride, though, are his deliberations and his actions. May he do right by this country and by all of us, and indeed, may our Camelot arrive swiftly and prosper long.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hoosiers All Around

An op-ed in today’s New York Times about daylight savings time in Indiana (and the fact that it was only recently instituted in the state) reminded me of Chelsea I-Can’t-Remember-Her-Last-Name, who was born and raised in the Hoosier State and moved from New Paris, Indiana to suburban New Jersey in the late 1980s. Shortly thereafter, she came to work for the same company as I did. A few weeks later, along came a particular Friday in April – the one right before “spring ahead” Saturday – and we all reminded each other not to forget to change the clocks. She looked at us as though we each had two heads and purple and yellow striped antennae growing from our scalps.

And once my memory was jogged about Chelsea, for some reason I was on Hoosier overload and had these random thoughts throughout the day:
  1. There are a lot of Mennonites in Indiana. In the winter of 1997 (during Christmas week specifically), in a driving trek from Hanover, NH to Los Angeles, CA, I saw lots of them, mostly stretching their legs and using the facilities (as was I) at the rest areas along the interstate. For the most part, they were dressed like Ma and Pa Ingalls, Mary, Laura and Carrie. And, although they didn’t ride around in horse drawn wagons, their cars were the most basic of black sedans -- Chrysler K cars and Ford Tauruses.

  2. Unlike me, I’m sure they weren’t listening to whatever Top 40 pop station came in most clearly on the radio dial. And, whatever station that was, the DJs played more music of native son John Mellencamp (I knew him originally as John Cougar Mellencamp) than DJs in other states. On that particular day, I must have heard “Hurts So Good” and “Jack and Diane” nearly a hundred times.

  3. When I was a sophomore in college, Sharon Basso lived down the hall. She was from Zionsville, Indiana, a suburb of Indianapolis. I don’t know why I’ve been wasting neurons all these years remembering her name or her hometown. If I wasn’t, maybe I could remember what I had for lunch yesterday or what Chelsea I-Can’t-Remember-Her-Last-Name’s last name really is.

  4. Twenty years after I knew Sharon Basso, I went to work for the Union for Reform Judaism. It owns and operates 12 summer camps throughout North America. One of them, Goldman Union Camp Institute (GUCI, pronounced Gucci, like the handbags), is in Zionsville, Indiana. How weird is that?

  5. Wait, it gets even weirder. When I lived in New Hampshire I worked with Mary, a woman who became a good friend. She’s married now with four daughters (a unique blessing, she always says) and guess where she lives? Yup…Zionsville, Indiana.

  6. But wait, there’s more. A while back, I corresponded with a guy who answered one of my Craigslist posts. He told me he’s originally from Michigan City, Indiana. Not so bizarre, right? Right, but wait: longtime family friends spent a few years in Indiana when the husband took a job there. Where, you ask? Yup…Michigan City, Indiana.

  7. Remember Jane Pauley? She’s from Indiana. So are Florence Henderson, Red Skelton, David Letterman, Dan Quayle (oh yeah…remember him?), Cole Porter, Steve McQueen, James Dean, Larry Bird, and Orville Redenbacher. Oh, and don’t forget those quarry-swimming, bike-riding guys in “Breaking Away,” the town vs. gown, Academy Award winning classic film from the late seventies.

OK, enough with Indiana already. It’s late and I’m off to bed… Go Hoosiers!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Making Change Happen

Earlier this week, I blogged extensively on about my attempts to change the Friday night online registration timeslot that was assigned to me the week before by Baruch College. As I was emailing with the Hillel director and the rabbinic chaplain and trying – ultimately without success – to speak with someone in the registrar’s office, I was reminded of an earlier time in my life when I also opted to challenge a school's policy...

It was 1977 and I was a freshman in a typical suburban New Jersey high school. Intent on following in an older cousin’s footsteps, I wanted to join the local chapter of the Key Club, sponsored by Kiwanis, the international service organization. As I learned, however, much to my dismay, in my high school membership in the Key Club was limited to boys, although there was a Keyette Club, the girls’ equivalent. Separate, but equal didn’t do it for me, though, and at the tender age of 14, I was ready to buck the system.

I notified the president of the Key Club that I wanted to join. Although he tried to persuade me to join the Keyettes, I persisted and was granted an “interview.” This was 1977, remember, and so what I really got was a “hazing.” On the assigned day, I showed up after school to the chemistry lab where the meetings were held – the advisor was a chemistry teacher – and faced a roomful of snickering upper class high school guys. Undaunted, I followed their instructions and, after donning a lead apron and a blindfold, stood on a worktable and did what they demanded. I sang the national anthem, sniffed the obnoxious but harmless fumes rising from beakers they held under my nose, ran my hands through the unknown goo they held in front of me and followed a host of equally sophomoric commands. Finally, my ordeal was over and I was free to go home and await the Club’s decision.

About a week later, it arrived. My request to join had been denied – no explanation given. Before the end of the day, my parents were in the principal’s office and within a few months, the Key Club and the Keyette Club were one. By then, however, I’d made my point and felt no need to join.

More than 30 years later, though, the lesson about change and the incredible power we possess to make it happen – even if not on the first try -- lives within me still.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Can We Fast Forward to Tu Bishvat?

With a full two weeks still to go until Thanksgiving, the airwaves are already full of holiday cheer. Call me what you will, but at the moment, “Scrooge” seems to be just about right. Buy-me, buy-me commercials for classic Barbie dolls, Leapsters and the other latest fad toys and games fill the airwaves while catalogs, catalogs and more catalogs -- Lands’ End, L.L Bean, Harry and David and the Vermont Country Store, among others – fill the mailboxes. That ho-ho-ho bearded guy in the red suit is starting to show up everywhere you turn and soon enough we won’t be able to escape the music -- endless refrains of silver bells, chestnuts roasting and Felice Navidad.

Ah, yes, Election Day is over and the holiday season has arrived. Can we fast forward to Tu Bishvat?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Crunching the JDate Numbers

In a recent post on, my blogging buddy, Larry Kaufman, did some number crunching and analysis of the blog with regard to the number of writers, responders, their degrees of anonymity and the like. Although I don’t generally possess Larry’s meshugassen (which he loosely translates as idiosyncrasies and I would loosely translate as craziness) to “count the house,” – I possess my own meshugassen, thanks very much – his post got me to thinking about analyzing and crunching my JDate numbers.

I first joined JDate in October of 2003, about a year after I moved to New York, and, with “beginner’s luck” shining brightly upon me, met a good guy in less than a month. We dated for almost two years and are still in touch from time to time. After that relationship ended and I was ready to re-enter the JDate marketplace, I re-upped in January of 2006 with a six--month membership. Since then, I’ve been on and off the JDate merry-go-round countless times, sometimes re-joining just to access and answer a “Someone’s Trying to Get in Touch with You” email, ever hopeful that even if it’s not “Mr. Right” at the other end of the laptop, maybe, just maybe, it’s “Mr. Possibility” who’s waiting there. Unfortunately, more often than not, these unsolicited messages have been sent by game-playing 20- or 30-somethings in Florida, California, Colorado or other geographically undesirable locales whose profiles are nearly incomplete or wholly nonsensical. Most frustrating of all, however, was re-joining several months ago only to find an I-need-your-financial-assistance-to-travel-to-the-U.S. message from a JDater in Nigeria. Talk about a scam…

Now, on to the number crunching: During my JDate tenure, 477 different guys have viewed my profile and 52 (almost 11 percent) have emailed me, either proactively or in response to an email that I sent to them. It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I’ve opened and read all my incoming messages -- responding to most, even if just to say thanks, but no thanks.

On the other side of the equation, I’ve looked at the profiles of more than 500 different guys, most of who claim to be professionally accomplished, to work out with great regularity and to love dining out, travel, long walks on the beach, jazz, good wine, the outdoors and taking advantage of all that life and the city have to offer. (Many, it seems to me, however, could use a lesson in the proper use of apostrophes, as well as the difference between "your" and "you're" and “there” and “their,” as well as other grammar basics. That, though, is neither here nor there -- and it most certainly is not “their!”).

Nonetheless, I’ve manage to send some form of communication -- emails, IMs, “flirts” or e-cards -- to more than 100 different guys. In some instances, a conversation gets launched, accounting for multiple messages to the same person. In total, two hundred and twenty seven of my 270 sent communiques (84 percent) have been opened and read. The balance hang unopened in cyberspace. Many of the guys who opt not to open these messages (and many who do open them, but choose not to respond), do, however, view my profile instead -- most likely just to see the picture.

What, if anything, do their actions (or inactions) indicate about the recipients? They’re “visual learners?" Shallow? In search of a certain, very specific physical “type?” Not really interested in investing time or energy getting to know someone who, based on brief answers on a cyber-questionnaire and some pixels masquerading as an image, doesn’t fit their likely way-too-idealized notion of a potential partner? Oh, but I’m sounding oh-so jaded…

And, what is it that I have to show for the little bit of cyber-communicating that’s going on here? Sadly, not much; aside from a few IM conversations and even fewer phone calls, I have not even one single coffee JDate to my name. Yup, that’s right. With the exception of Sam, the guy I met in this crazy cyber-marketplace and dated for nearly two years, my JDate escapades have netted me zero JDates. Nada, nothing, nil…zilch, zip, zero.

So, what, if anything, can we conclude from all this JDate number crunching? I surely don’t know the answer to that one, but ever the optimist, I continually dole out hefty fees to renew my JDate membership, trusting implicitly in the New York State Lotto tag line: "You've gotta be in it to win it."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Reflections

At lunch today, Naomi, one of my colleagues, told the following story:

Her father was a poll worker in Wisconsin yesterday. An elderly African-American woman came in to vote. She was carrying with her a small package. The poll workers asked her what it was and she said, "I brought my ancestors with me." With that, she opened the package and took out pictures of several deceased relatives. The poll workers helped her set them up in the voting booth so they could be with her when she voted.
Naomi said that she's told the story three or four times and gets teary with each telling. She isn't the only one.
* * *
As always happens when I go to vote, I think about my grandparents. My grandfather died in March of 1986 and my grandmother in July of 1991. And, while I observe their yahrzeits at the appropriate season each year, I also think of Election Day as a pseudo-yahrzeit for each of them. In this, their adopted country, they savored the right to step up, to raise their voices, and to have them count. Never did either of them miss a trip to the polls on Election Day. Indeed, it is a most fitting tribute to their memories.

It was these thoughts that occupied my mind yesterday as I left my polling place. On the short walk home, I began to compose this post in my mind. And then this morning, I found the following poem on the blog of Rabbi James Stone Goodman:
Prayer After Voting

I voted
O holy God, I voted,
I felt good voting.
I honored my predecessors –
My grandparents, my parents of blessed memory –
Knowing, for them,
Was an ascendant experience.
They had complete confidence in our country
To provide opportunity for us
Their children
– That they did not have.

That is a matter of memory
Because I have had all opportunity,
But their stories reminded me that they
Did not.

I voted with the intention to honor them.
This year I voted from frustration too.

I voted against negativist language
Stiff, formal, and unbelievable to me –
The handlers speaking through puppets
Playing off fear in our country
When I want to vote for hope.

I voted for hope.
I voted for a deeper level of discourse
For a lower timbre of speech
Don’t yell at me pundits and politicians
And don’t think I am so easily played.
You couldn’t reach me with your strategies –
This year your strategies were transparent
And ugly –
And I turned off your voices
When they weren’t honest voices.

The problem is always discernment –
This year it was easy.
I know the truth when I hear it.
I voted out of discernment.

I voted for hope
I voted with the intention of honoring
Those who voted before me
During periods of higher expectations.

O holy God, I voted for higher expectations
Purification of purpose
Real talk from real people.

Politicos — don’t sweet talk me.
I’ll vote again.
Indeed, after such eloquence, there is nothing left to say.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Marathon Spirit

Knowing that I had attended a marathon brunch this morning, my sister asked me later in the day how it was. “The human spirit,” I said, “is alive and well in New York City.”

“You’re going to blog about this, aren’t you?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said.

Her response? “Here comes the schmaltz.”

Schmaltzy? Maybe, but I stand by my initial response: The human spirit is alive and well in New York City.

It is alive and well and was most visible this morning from the balcony of my friend’s apartment at 81st and First. From this extraordinary vantage point (thanks, Donnie!) 17 miles into the race and nine floors up from the street, we saw it first in wheelchair entrants who, one by one, raced up First Avenue, their powerful arms and spirit propelling them forward. My biceps burned and my eyes teared up just watching them.

Then we saw it in the women, their sneakered feet rhythmically pounding the pavement as they’d been doing for hours, their toned and muscled legs -- and their spirit -- pushing them onward.

Then came the Kenyans, their powerful, lanky legs -- and their spirit -- carrying them swiftly past us on the street below.

A colorful flood of running humanity followed – men, women, more wheelchair racers, more men, more women – individually and collectively pressing on in body and spirit.

And we were there to help.

On the street directly below us, a group held a sign for Tommy. When he ran past, detouring briefly to the curb for hugs and kisses, we cheered as though he belonged to us. In fact, at that moment, he did.

We did the same for Jessica and for Billy when they ran by, and for Zoe, who’s family and friends were waiting for her on a balcony across the street from ours.

Big cheers, too, for Minnie Mouse, Elvis, the Dunkin’ Donuts cup – running on Dunkin’, of course, -- and some especially gray-haired runners as they chugged past our vantage point.

We cheered most loudly though (or so it seemed to me) for those who ran by on prosthetics and those who, temporarily felled by cramps, slowed or stopped right below us to work them out. When they began to run again, a bit of their spirit bounded up to our balcony and buoyed us all.

Schmaltzy? Yes, perhaps, but would that the spirit of the marathon and those who took it on today could stick around for a few more days. We could all use it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

We're Sorry, Your Date Has Been Canceled

When I started this blog nearly two months ago, I promised myself that unlike the proprietor of the Dating at Forty blog, I would write about more than my dating escapades and various marches in the “Schmuck Parade.” And, in fact, I think that I’ve done a fairly decent job of maintaining a balance among serious, frivolous and dating posts. In part, that’s because in reality, I go on far fewer dates than the number that actually get scheduled.

A few cases in point:

Back in May, I answered Guy #1’s ad on Craigslist. The subject line was: “Why isn’t the day after Tu Bishvat Three Bishvat?” We had a pleasant enough email exchange that went on for about a week and ended with arrangements to meet at a local wine bar. The day before, I received the following email from him: ” I need to reschedule tomorrow. A client needs a meeting and tomorrow night makes the most sense. Sorry. Raincheck?” I responded thusly, “Sure, a raincheck is no problem. Just let me know when you want to reschedule.” Maybe he’s waiting for 2015?

Last month Guy #2 answered my ad on Craigslist and, as with Guy #1, we had a very nice email exchange over the course of several days. He invited me out for dinner and we agreed to meet one night the week before Rosh Hashana. That morning, he emailed me and said, “ I just got to work and found out the guy I work with had an emergency appendectomy last night. I'm going to be stuck here late this week as I'm taking off from Friday to head to Florida to see my mom and spend the Jewish holidays with her. I'll contact you when I get back. Happy New Year.” Kudos to Guy #2 for making the Big Schlep to Florida for the high holidays. Do you think that now that Simchat Torah is over and we’re about to enter Cheshvan I’ll hear from him? Me either…

One more. At the beginning of this month, I answered a Craigslist ad of Guy #3, a “DJM looking for the long term.” After a lively email exchange (where have I heard this before?!) and a few brief phone conversations, during which he sounded like a good guy, we made plans to meet for dinner last Friday. That morning, Guy #3 called to say that he wasn’t feeling well and as much as he was looking forward to dinner that evening, he would need to postpone. He definitely wanted to reschedule for one night next week, though. No problem, I told him. Feel better, I said, and give me a call when you do. It’s now the middle of “next week” and guess what? Right…nothing from Guy #3.

So, is it that these guys have the attention span of a gnat and can’t remember to follow-up? Or, is it that they have such endless choices when it comes to women that some just inevitably fall by the wayside? Or, as I’ve been arguing all along, is it that they really are schmucks and this is how they deal with the world? I can’t decide…can you?

Random Questions

My friend Anna is known for asking random questions. Sometimes she’ll stop by my office just to ask: How much conditioner do you put in your hair in the morning? Or, at lunch it might be: What does it cost you to have a shirt dry cleaned? Yesterday, she asked me what time I’m going to vote on Tuesday. There’s usually a good reason she’s asking the question, but that reason isn't always apparent at the moment.

For the last few days I’ve noticed that many of the walk/don’t walk signs in my neighborhood are malfunctioning. As the traffic barrels down Second Avenue, the sign is fine, the bold red hand admonishing pedestrians to stay put at the corner. But, as soon as the cars and cabs line up at the newly-turned red light, confusion sets in: illuminated on the sign across the street are both the bold red hand and the bright white walkie guy.

As my friend Anna might ask: Why?

Monday, October 27, 2008

My Kinda Television

Ask my friends and they’ll tell you that I’m totally out of touch with pop culture. And, they’re not wrong. I freely admit that I don’t know Brad Pitt from Sean Penn, the Coen brothers from Christian Slater, and I could no sooner identify any of them in a line-up than I could fly to the moon. The same goes for Angelina Jolie (although I do know she’s Jon Voight’s daughter), Paris Hilton, Nicole Kidman, Britney Spears and the rest. I don’t know who they are and I seem to be surviving just fine, thank you.

When I do watch television, it’s Jeopardy and re-runs of Law and Order SVU and House. For a little variety, sometimes I check out The Food Network, Without a Trace or Cold Case, but that’s about it.

This week, my options seem to have increased exponentially. RCN expanded its channel line-up and tonight, while flipping through channel after channel after channel, I happened upon St. Elsewhere and all my old “friends” at St. Eligius -- Donald Westphall, Daniel Auschlander, Mark Craig, Philip Chandler (Denzel Washington), Victor Ehrlich (Ed Begley, Jr.), Wayne Fiscus (Howie Mandel) and the rest – on American Life Television. Although Mrs. Hufnagel wasn’t in the particular episode I caught, I’m sure she’ll turn up soon enough and I’ll be waiting for her.

In the meantime, you can be sure I’ll be watching some of the other shows I've now discovered on American Life, including LA Law, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Bob Newhart Show (not to be confused with Newhart, which I never watched), as well as Lou Grant and Trapper John, M.D. I can’t wait to catch up with Grace Van Owen, Arnie Becker, Michael Kuzak, Roxanne Melman, Victor Sifuentes, Rosalind Shays, and, of course, Benny Stulwicz. From MTM and The Bob Newhart Show don’t forget about Mary, Rhoda, Lou, Murray, Ted, Sue Ann, Phyllis, Lars, and Bess, as well as Bob, Emily, Jerry, Carol, Howard and Mr. Carlin. Oh, to see Mary toss her hat again would just make my day! And Billie Newman and Rossi from Lou Grant... Trapper, Gonzo and the others from Trapper John...can't wait!

Now, if only American Life would add The Waltons and Little House to its line-up, maybe, just maybe, I’ll become a television junkie like everyone else I know…

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Drinks in the Sukkah?

A short article in today’s New York Times about the Chabad sukkah in Bryant Park confirmed that many New Yorkers, myself included, lack the outdoor space necessary for a sukkah.

It was this idea, in fact, that prompted me to post the following ad on Craigslist:

Drinks in the Sukkah? (Midtown East)

Reply to:
Date: 2008-10-14, 8:35PM EDT

It’s Sukkot, the weather’s still nice…how about drinks in the sukkah? Oh, but wait, this is Manhattan and unlike the Orthodox over in Brooklyn, I don’t have a sukkah. No matter…drinks alfresco will be just fine.

Forty-something happily DJF with no kids, manageable baggage and lots to offer the right guy is looking for a spark that might ignite into a meaningful long-term relationship with a contentedly divorced (or equally seasoned) Jewish male (45-52).

Drop me a line and perhaps we can find an outdoor garden or patio to double as a sukkah for a get-to-know-you drink or two.
In response to what I considered a creative and timely post, I received seven less-than-stellar replies:

Guy #1 wrote, and I quote, “now manhattan”

Guy #2 asked, “Do you have a picture?”

Guy #3 described his 2500 square foot roof including the view, the Pino Grigio in the wine cooler and the “incredible” spa/hot tub. Sadly, he didn’t say a word about himself.

Guy #4, thankfully, did tell me a bit about himself. However, he did so using the exact same canned response he’d sent to me on 17 previous occasions. One of the earlier ones did, in fact, evolve into a brief email exchange, but it ended when he wrote, “I will call you at the number in your last email.” Guess what didn’t happen?

Guy #5 wrote, “Hi, sorry, I'm married, but what the heck.”

Guy #6 described himself as a modern Orthodox/conservadox Long Islander, and although he may be a perfectly nice guy, my instincts tell me that he’s not the right one for me.

Guy #7, a 34-year-old lawyer, wrote that he’s sure that we’d get along well and that I should “ignore the barriers.”

If it feels as though you’ve read this post before, it’s not déjà vu…just an earlier post about incredibly similar replies to a different Craigslist ad.

In light of all of these, I think I’ll skip posting another ad for Simchat Torah. Maybe for Hanukkah…

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Up and Down Conversations

Yesterday, I had three different elevator conversations with three different guys in my building.

Conversation #1 took place as I rode up to the 15th floor after work. Guy #1, with a cup of Starbucks in each hand got on after me.

Me: What floor?
Guy #1: Seventeen, please….thanks.
Me: Mmmmm, that coffee smells good.
Guy #1: It’s the only thing that keeps me going.
Me: Yup…I hear you. I’m a student with a lot of work to do tonight. It’ll definitely be a coffee night.
Guy #1: Me too…
Me (getting off): Have a good one…take care.

* * *

Conversation #2 was a few minutes later, as I was riding back down to the lobby. Guy #2, dressed for a roller hockey game and toting a big wooden stick got on on the 10th floor.

Me: I wish I was going where you’re going instead of where I’m going…and I don’t even play hockey.
Guy #2: Where are you going?
Me: The library…big project due tomorrow. Grad school…
Guy #2: Where?
Me: Baruch...25th and Lex.
Guy #2: At least the commute is OK.
Me: Right. Can't complain about that, but can complain about other stuff...
Guy #2: Hey…that’s cool. Good luck.
Me: Thanks. You too.

* * *
Conversation #3 took place on my ride up to the 15th floor following a few hours at the library. Guy #3, toting a briefcase and balancing a large pizza box, and I got in the same elevator in the lobby.

Me: What floor?
Guy #3: Six, please…thanks.
Me: I used to live on six. Do you live in “N?”
Guy #3: Yes.
Me: (Knowing smile.)
Guy #3: So you know Penny?
Me: Oh yes... I used to live in "N." (Big smile.)
Me (as Guy #3 gets off): Good luck…

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Baby Boy Jdate -- 917-542-6779

The other day it occurred to me that if I ever lose my cell phone (pooh, pooh, pooh, as one of my colleagues is known to say), it could come in quite handy as a tool for soon-to-be-parents of a little boy. After months of prowling around on various internet dating sites, it’s filled with saved phone numbers of guys with baby boy names popular in the late 1950s and early 1960s--Andrew, David, Harold, Howard, Jeffrey, Jerry, Kevin, Mark, Matthew, Peter, Richie, Ron, Scott, Sheldon, Sid, Steve and Ziv—all of whom (in my phone) have one of only two surnames: Jdate or Craigslist.

But, lest you think I’ve spoken with all of these guys, let me set you straight. Although lively and promising email exchanges often start our conversations, they frequently evaporate abruptly into nothingness—seemingly without cause. So, too, do the guys' promises to call. However, when asked, I always send along my cell phone number. And, when they send theirs, I generally say that I prefer to receive, not to make, the first call. (Yes, I am old fashioned that way.) Regardless, their names and numbers go immediately into my phone. That way, in the unlikely event that one or another of them does call, I can see from the phone's display before I answer that it's "Jerry Jdate" or "Kevin Craigslist" on the other end of the line.

However, with a new year upon us, I think a resolution is in order: The next time a guy sends me his cell phone number, I’ll pick up the phone and dial it. Stay tuned…

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Taking the Train to Trenton

Earlier this week, as I was checking one of the New Jersey Transit monitors in a crowded Penn Station a young Asian man approached me with a scrap of paper on which were scribbled the following words: “Trenton, 2:07 p.m.” He then showed me his train ticket to Trenton, his body language telling me he spoke little if any English.

I nodded emphatically, showed him my own ticket to Metuchen and pointed back and forth, first and him then at me, then back at him, assuring him, I hoped, that we would be traveling on the same train and that he should follow me.

And follow me he did—down the steps to the crowded waiting area where we stood awaiting the posting of a track number. When that number flashed on the monitor, he stuck to me like glue amidst the mass of travelers funneling to the track, down the escalator (for once it was running in the right direction), onto the train and, after helping me get my suitcase down a flight of stairs on the double decker train, into a seat right behind me.

Once seated, it occurred to me that my seeming expertise in “Charades” had likely left this young man with the impression that he should follow me off the train as well. So, when the conductor came through to collect tickets, I told him the following: “The guy sitting behind me is going to Trenton, but he doesn’t speak a word of English and is probably going to try to get off in Metuchen, since I helped him get on the train. Just want you to know…” Without a word, he chuckled and moved on.

Indeed, when I stood, gathered my belongings and moved toward the exit at the end of the car, so did the young man behind me. As we awaited the Metuchen stop, I shook my head and pointed back at his seat, futilely telling him, “Trenton is the last stop, the end of the line.” Reluctantly, he returned to his seat as I alighted from the train.

I hope that young man made it to Trenton okay.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Different Kind of Writing

Work and school kept me so busy last week that I didn’t have time to “percolate” or craft a new blog post—either for this blog or for the Union for Reform Judaism’s blog. Of course, just because I wasn’t writing for this venue doesn’t mean I wasn’t writing at all.

In fact, I spent quite a bit of time crafting, among other things, a one-page memo for my MPA graduate school class. This once-a-week course, Communications in Public Settings, focuses on the diffusion of innovation and the role of communications in social change. The professor, a young, energetic and enthusiastic rhetorician, jam packs a lecture, group work, public speaking and discussion and dialogue into each 150-minute session, expecting that we’ll complement it with a significant investment of time in reading, writing and thinking in preparation for the next week’s class. And, for the last few weeks I have been doing just that.

The assignment for this memo, the first written work of the semester, was to select an African country (any one would do) and, using Toulmin-style arguments (a specific, dry, just-the-facts format that includes claims, grounds and warrants), make a case for why this particular country is an ideal site for a pilot project to help it achieve United Nations Millennium Development Goal #2, universal primary education.

So, here’s my memo:

DATE: September 11, 2008
TO: Young, Energetic and Enthusiastic Rhetorician/Professor
FROM: JanetheWriter
SUBJECT: United Nations Millennium Development Goal (MDG) #2 pilot site
Since the end of its 11-year civil war in 2002, Sierra Leone (no, I didn't use Wikipedia as a reference for this memo) has been rebuilding its political, economic and educational infrastructure, and positive activity in each of these sectors plays a critical role in making the country an ideal location in which to pilot universal primary education initiatives.

Political stability is returning to Sierra Leone. Parliamentary elections in 2007—the first since the withdrawal of UN peacekeepers in 2005—brought Ernest Bai Koroma of the All People's Congress (APC) into the presidency and returned the country to a 1991 constitutionally-mandated constituency-based system (US Department of State). Local government elections held outside the Western Area in July 2008 were conducted largely without incident, furthering cooperation between local councils and chiefdom authorities that was begun after the first such elections in 2004 (United Nations Integrated Office in Sierra Leone). Stability within a country’s government and support of its political system by citizens contribute significantly to its overall ability to provide services—including primary education—to its populace.

Sierra Leone is recovering from a severe economic collapse in the 1990s. In the mining sector, the economic foundation of the country, diamond exports have increased from $1.2 million in 1999 to $142 million in 2005 and that same year, exports of rutile and bauxite resumed after a 10-year suspension (US Department of State). On the agricultural front, where subsistence farming accounts for more than half of Sierra Leone’s national income, the government is working to provide skills training to farmers and to increase food and cash crops (US Department of State). Development initiatives with neighboring countries and passage of the Investment Promotion Act to attract foreign investors are among other economic-strengthening activities underway (US Department of State). Like political stability, a solid economic base is a key component in a country’s ability to provide adequate resources and education for its citizens.

Restoration of Sierra Leone’s educational system is ongoing, but much work remains. Although the government abolished school fees in 2001 and made primary education compulsory in 2004, 25 to 30% of children remain out of school and only 35% of the population is literate (, CIA World Factbook). The student-teacher ratio is 66:1 but, because 40% of the country’s teachers have inadequate qualifications and training, the student to qualified teacher ratio is 112:1 (, In addition, during the war, 70% of the country’s schools were destroyed or closed; those that have reopened are badly damaged and lack such basic equipment as chairs or benches ( By further rebuilding its educational infrastructure, Sierra Leone will advance its recovery from civil war and reclaim its stature as a nation whose people are known for their educational attainments.
What do you think? Did I make a strong enough case? Would you select Sierra Leone as the pilot site for MDG #2? Why or why not?

Oy…that sounds like another assignment!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Graduates

Yesterday, yet again, I posted a personal ad on Craigslist. Entitled “Ode to a Mensch,” it reads as follows:

So here you are,
You’re browsing the ads,
You want something lasting,
Not just a fad.

You are kind and gentle, Jewish and more,
At least 40-something and not a big bore.
You're seeking a woman, a smart one to boot,
To find her on Craigslist, wouldn't that be a hoot?

You’re honest and smart,
A really nice catch,
You love dogs and kids,
Perhaps you’re my match?

I live on the east side, my world is alive,
I’m sweet and I’m funny, my age: 45.
I read lots of books, just a little TV,
Love hanging with others,
Perhaps you and me?

If this little ditty has caught your eye,
Drop me a line and tell me why.
Tell me, too, what makes you tick,
We can chat by phone or meet for a drink,
If all goes well, maybe a flick?

I hope that you'll write,
And answer this post.
For it is from you,
That I wish to hear most!
Although 13 guys responded to the post, sadly, with one possible exception, none meets my personal criteria of “mensch.” Two, in fact, by virtue of their rapid “reverse aging,” fall squarely into the category of "schmuck.”

Guy #1 and I corresponded a bit back in July. At that time, he was 50. Today, a mere two months later, he’s in his 40s. Amazing…

Guy #2 and I also corresponded previously during the summer. In June, he was 54; today he’s 50. Incredible...

At the rate they're going, they'll "catch up" to me by the end of the year, but soon enough they'll be Benjamin Braddock.

Me...Mrs. Robinson? No thanks, I’ll just keep looking for my mensch.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Garnets 101

One of my recent posts on, the blog of the Union for Reform Judaism, highlights the spiritual sustenance a pomegranate can provide, particularly as the High Holidays approach. My attraction to this exotic fruit, however, is more than spiritual. As a wordsmith, I am intrigued by the linkages among words, and pomegranate is a great one for connecting the dots.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve known that the word pomegranate is derived from the Old French pome grenate, meaning apple having many seeds. Grenate, in turn, derives from the Latin granatum, which means grain or seed, and gives us such English words as garner, granary, grange and garnet. An interesting connection here: the ancient Greeks named garnets--those dark red gemstones that seem to have fire within--as such precisely because they reminded them of the tiny seeds nestled deep in the ivory lining of a pomegranate.

A few more tidbits about garnets: they are the birthstone for the month of January (maybe that’s why I’m so partial to them?) and they occur naturally in all colors of the rainbow—except blue. According to legend, Noah used the light of a garnet to steer the ark through the night. Early explorers and travelers, too, often carried garnets to illuminate the night and as protection against disaster and evil. As for me, I generally don’t board a plane, ride a train or even set off on a road trip without garnet studs in my ears or a garnet pendant around my neck.

Superstitious? Not a chance!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Five Senses

In my first post on this blog, I spelled out some “do’s and don’ts” for guys who answer the ads I post on craigslist. Clearly, those guys are not reading this blog.

Ever the optimist, though, this morning I posted yet another ad in the W4M dating/romance/ltr section of that crazy cyber-marketplace:

The Five Senses

I’ve got five good senses: sense of humor, sense of intelligence, sense of kindness, sense of adventure and yes, despite this post, common sense…lol!

This happily (but not bitter) DJF also has 40-some years of life experience and lots to offer the right guy. If you’re 40-something, divorced or equally seasoned, Jewish and not into games, let’s share coffee or a drink to see if it makes sense to share more.

Sensible replies include a bit about you and, of course, your recent photo.
Within 23 minutes I had five (how ironic!) responses:

Guy #1 wrote solely to tell me that I forgot “nonsense.”

Guy #2 sent a one word response: “Pic?”

Guy #3 sent a photo (he’s shirtless on the beach) and these tidbits about himself: 42, 180 lbs, 5'9.

Guy #4 also sent his vital stats, including the fact that he’s Italian.

Guy #5 sent me the canned response he’s sent me on 16 (yes, 16!) previous occasions.

I’m starting to wonder who’s really senseless here: is it the guys or…is it me?!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Step in the Right Direction

Baruch College's main classroom building, the "Vertical Campus,” on 25th Street between Third and Lexington is a sleek and modern facility. Its interior showcases bold chrome, sweeping heights and vast open spaces.

As a trade-off for these supposedly desirable design elements, elevators in the core of the building have landings only on floors 2, 5, 8 and 11. Escalators and staircases make up the difference. All of this means that if, as mine does, your class meets on the 6th floor, you either have to take the elevator to the 5th floor (an experience much like riding the #6 train at rush hour) and walk up one flight or continue to the 8th floor and walk down two flights.

Alternately, you can take the escalators to the 5th floor and then continue in a stairwell to the 6th floor, but in reality that means walking up all six flights because, with great regularity, no matter the season or the semester, those moving staircases do not.

Indeed, getting them moving again would be a step in the right direction. In the meantime, as I have become oh-so-very fond of saying when it comes to this and to oh-so-many things Baruch, "Welcome to the City University..."

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Elul: A New Beginning, a Fresh Start, a Time to Look Forward

JanetheWriter Writes… This essay was originally written for posting on However, that blog has been experiencing technical difficulties for the last few days and thus, I am posting it here instead.

Earlier this week, we marked both the unofficial end of summer and, with the arrival of Elul, the unofficial start of the High Holy Day season. Indeed, with each Elul, each Simchat Torah "Bereshit" and each seder-concluding "L'shana ha-ba-ah b'yerushalayim," our tradition graciously offers us an opportunity to seize a new beginning, a fresh start, a reason to look forward.

Six years ago at this season, just as I was closing out a difficult chapter in my own life, I had an opportunity to begin again in every way--a new job, a new home, and what I still think of as an entirely remade life back home here on the east coast.

During those first weeks at the Union for Reform Judaism, as I became acclimated to the newness of so many facets of my life, many interesting items crossed my desk. One story in particular, perhaps because of the then still fresh unpleasantness of my “old” life, remains with me to this day:

An old and somewhat decrepit donkey falls into a dry well. Upon discovering the donkey at the bottom of the well, the farmer who owns it decides that rather than trying to rescue the animal, he’ll bury it instead. He invites a few neighbors to help him with the task. Initially distraught, the donkey seems resigned to his fate as shovelful after shovelful of dirt hits his back from above. And then an idea strikes him: with each shovelful of dirt, the donkey shakes it off and steps up. Shake it off and step up…shake it off and step up…shake it off and step up. Before long, the donkey’s out of the well and walking on the ground.
Yes, regardless of the dirt that gets thrown our way, each year the High Holy Days offer us a chance to shake it off and step up...a new beginning, a fresh start, a reason to look forward.

Just as the “donkey story” helped carry me forward into 5763, so too is it my hope that the inspirational messages contained in the “Jewels of Elul,” sent to me by email each day during the month, will help me look forward to the arrival of 5769 and its promise of a new beginning and a fresh start.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Labor Day Lessons

As a respite from the hectic pace of New York City life, two friends and I took a day trip to Hyde Park, NY over the Labor Day weekend. There we visited Springwood, the home, gardens and presidential library of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and, just a few miles down the road, Val-Kill, Eleanor Roosevelt’s home after FDR’s death.

As we wandered through the detailed exhibits in the presidential library, I was struck by how similar today’s challenges are to those that Roosevelt faced during his dozen years in office. Like him, our political leaders must contend with an economy in a downward spiral, troops at war, and, as Hurricane Gustav raced toward the Gulf Coast, a natural disaster that, not unlike the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, had the potential—yet again--to further destroy America’s crumbling physical infrastructure, and wreak personal and economic havoc on countless of its citizens.

Because our visit coincided with Labor Day weekend (a holiday that, ironically, was initiated in 1882, the year of Roosevelt’s birth), I could not help but notice, too, how many of his New Deal initiatives were designed to put Americans back to work and, more importantly, to ensure that from their labors, they and their families would be assured of some measure of social and financial security.

Yesterday, as many of us refrained from our own labors, I was cognizant that, in addition to celebrating the last gasp of summer with a leisurely day of picnics, swimming and, perhaps, shopping, we must be grateful for the very work of our hands, our minds and our hearts. More importantly, it is incumbent upon us to promote fair labor practices, a living wage, and workplace rights, as well as to discourage workplace discrimination in all its forms, and to guarantee health and safety standards for all who work in our factories, our offices and our homes. In so doing, may we honor Roosevelt’s memory, and serve as a model for our current and future leaders that they may follow our lead.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Are My Standards Too High?

Back in May, I started writing as a staff voice on the Union for Reform Judaism’s newly launched blog. Since then, and after hearing repeatedly about my escapades in dating, "lovingly" referred to by me as marching in "The Schmuck Parade,” a number of colleagues and friends have told me that I should write a blog. Finally, I’ve decided to take these folks up on their suggestion. At this point, I’m not sure exactly where this writing pad of the 21st century will lead me, but I’m glad you stopped by and hope that you’ll come back again soon.

OK…ready? Here goes…

Frustrated with, and other internet dating venues, I’ve been posting serious W4M (woman for man) ads on the dating/romance/ltr section of craigslist for some time now. Needless to say, the replies and some of the dates that have resulted have been quite an eye-opening experience and in recent months, I’ve picked up on some “do’s and don’ts” that I’d like to share, particularly with the guys who answer such ads.

1. Please read my ad carefully. It will tell you a fair bit about me and what I’m seeking in a relationship.

2. If you are married, otherwise engaged in a relationship, or looking for a FWB (friends with benefits) or NSA (no strings attached) encounter, please do not respond to my ad. It will be a waste of time for both of us.

3. If you do choose to respond, please take a few minutes to craft a personal response. I’m no English teacher, but complete sentences, proper grammar, punctuation (especially the correct placement of apostrophes) and capitalization, as well as proofreading and spell checking will earn you bonus points.

4. Please do not send me the canned response, one liner, photo or phone number you send to everyone – including to me on previous occasions.

5. If I share my photo and you are interested enough to want to continue the conversation, please send one in return, preferably one in which you’re not wearing sunglasses, but you are wearing a shirt. “Pic?” is not an appropriate response to my ad.

6. Please respect the age and religion parameters set out in my ad. A "40-something DJF seeking an age-appropriate Jewish guy" leaves some room for interpretation, but if you have to ask if you're too old or too young (or comment on the fact that you think you may be), you probably are. And, if you have to ask what the "J" stands for, forget it.

7. Please do not email me endlessly. If you're interested in moving the conversation forward, it would be great if you'd suggest that we speak on the phone and/or meet for coffee or a drink. If you're not interested, it's even easier: don't hit "Reply." I'll get the message.

8. Please do not ask for my phone number unless you intend to call. If you do intend to call, please don’t wait three weeks to do so, and when you do, please call at a reasonable hour, preferably before 11 p.m.

9. If you ask me to meet you for coffee or a drink, I don’t expect you to wear a suit and tie, but please don’t show up in a sweatshirt and sneakers or with five o’clock shadow (unless it is after work). And, since you invited me, it’d be nice if you’d actually spring for the coffee, too.

10. Please refrain from using excessively foul language. It’s a turn-off.

11. Likewise, please don’t try to impress me with who you know, how much money you have, your job responsibilities, your globe-trotting travels or your high-powered friends and relatives. I really just want to know about who you are as a person – not about all your worldly trappings and accomplishments.

12. If you want to be in touch again after we meet, that’s fine, but please don’t say you’ll call or email if you’re really going home to look at the newest craigslist ads or jdate profiles.

13. If you leave it up to me to be in touch after a coffee date and I don’t call or email, please don’t contact me to ask why I haven’t called or emailed.

14. Oh yes, one more thing: Thanks for reading and good luck finding whatever it is that you’re seeking in this crazy cyber-marketplace.

So...what do you think? Are my standards too high?