Friday, November 22, 2013

Fun with Online Dating at Age 63 and Beyond!

You have to be motivated or amused or a little of both to stick with online dating, especially at age 63 and beyond. I’m now 69 years old and over the last six years, I was on and off J-Date,, Yahoo Dating and OKCupid to find guys with whom I could do some real-time offline dating.

You probably want to know – was it fun? Was it horrid? Was the time I devoted to the online search and offline dating well spent? Did I find my perfect match? The brief answers are – yes it was fun. No it was not horrid. Yes my time was well spent. Yes I found someone. We have been enjoying each other’s company for seven months and our assessment is “so far so good.”

The fun of it was in the variety of guys I met and got to know a little bit. Some I dated once or twice; others I dated for a few months or more. Among them were a professional engineer/diver, a newspaper reporter, a registered nurse, a nuclear scientist from Fermi Lab, an attorney who did pro-bono work which included defending arrested Occupy Chicago protestors, a handy-man electrician who fixed a broken lamp for me, a 70 year old volunteer for the Israel Defense Forces, a business owner whose business made screws, nuts and bolts and a college professor who is not a romantic interest but has become a good friend.

It was not horrid, but it was scary. At the same time that I was going online to find guys I could meet for real offline dating, I was also trying to market a book of prayers I had written.  In both cases, I was putting myself and my soul “out there” to be evaluated and critiqued. In both cases, I experienced rejection, indifference and sometimes confirmation that they (the guys and the readers) thought I and/or my prayers were “ok.”  I must say, however, that I was amused at how difficult the online and offline dating rejections were. Always I felt personally affronted by a guy I never met who would reply to my online query “You are not my type” or “You seem interesting but I’m dating someone else I met online.” And it was surprisingly difficult for me to tell a guy whom I barely knew after one or two dates or one phone call “You seem like a nice guy (said to soften the blow) but I’m sorry this is not going to work for me.”  Except for one guy. On our first date, he said “My last girlfriend would come to my house and throw out the beer in my refrigerator to keep me from drinking to excess.”  I immediately got up to leave, shook hands with him and replied “I will never do that for you.”    I had been married to a non-recovered alcoholic. Enough said.

My time was well spent.  I found enough personal “enlightenment” to keep me going in spite of all the mis-matches and near-matches. I learned a lot about myself as I put myself out there with guys whose quirks and personalities butted up against my quirks (yes I do have many) and my not-always easy-going personality.  I learned even more through writing and rewriting and tweaking my online profiles on the several sites. It was like completing mini-social psychological evaluations. Was I flirty, intellectual, seductive, athletic, bookish, religious, spiritual? Was I friendly or reserved? Was I social or a hermit? Was I creative or not?  And how did I like to spend my time?  And what was I looking for – companionship, friendship, long-term relationship, marriage? Do I mention my several divorces or that I write prayers? Are these things that define me? Will any of this turn off a guy who might be a good match for me?

So now to your most important question:    Have I met my perfect match? My answer is a very tentative maybe.  For seven months, I’ve been seeing a guy I met on OKCupid.  We are of the same generation: I am 69; he is 70.  He is a nice guy, by that I mean: he is pleasant to be with and doesn’t have any in-your-face negative personality traits. He gets along well with me and with his kids and grand-kids and speaks well of his ex-wife. 

We are not identical in our personalities or interests, yet we seem compatible. Here are a few things I like very much about him: We both like to eat at home. He cooks for me; I cook for him.   When we occasionally go out to eat, he shares his food with me.  (The pro-bono attorney did not offer to share his large salad with me after I offered to share my medium sized pizza with him.) He has street smarts and a witty/sharp sense of humor. He reads books and has recommended several wonderful reads to me. After he has talked for a while, he says “I’ve said enough. Perhaps I talked too long. I tend to go on sometimes” and then he stops talking. After six years and many dates, possibilities and rejections by the other guys or by me, I know this guy is a person of substance and he seems to think the same of me.  At 69 and 70 respectively we know our time on this earth is shorter than it used to be and our mutual assessment is “so far so good.”

Written July 2013

As of November 2013, we are still enjoying each other’s company.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Twenty-first Century Clutter

Twenty-first Century Clutter
Facebook twitter email skype youtube web pages blogs
and other twenty-first century clutter co-opts my time
and grabs my hours
and in a daze
my days disappear.

And what of the twenty-first century promise: No more paper clutter.
Daily dutifully,
the mail carrier continues to bring donation pleas and advertising mailers/ I them toss out.
The Weekly Jewish Forward that I stopped subscribing to
and magazines pile up like email in my inbox/ so I can read them later. Maybe?

I venture out to real-life, to poetry readings, classes and events
and they give me more paper to bring home
and add to the piles of magazines and Forwards.

The books on my Kindle pile up so I can read them later. Maybe? 

And yet
and yet
I get books from the library and borrow books from friends
and sometimes buy books to read and pass along.
With their solid feel and temporary status I read them now.

Today in the twenty-first century, hard copy books are unique.
They are a treat.
They are rare.
And when I curl up in a chair
I read and reread and mark pages with metal paper clips
and my life is spacious and slow in the old-fashioned twentieth century way.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Kaddish of Rabbi Levi-Yitzchak of Berdichev

In the Hebrew Bible, there are many stories of God’s power, and intention, to intervene to save B’nai Yisrael, the Children of Israel, God’s people.  And these stories and intentions have caused hope and heartbreak to the Jewish people over the centuries.

The prayers Jews say and the Torah Jews read and study, week after week and year after year, invoke God’s power to save them from disaster and to bring salvation “speedily and in our day.” But over the millenniums of Jewish history, the Jewish people have yearned and waited for their salvation to come.

The Kaddish of Rabbi Levi-Yitzchak of Berdichev (Russian city) from the 18th century is one of the most poignant expressions of this yearning. Rabbi Levi-Yitzchak wrote it as a protest against the Czar. Here is one translation.
Good morning to You, Lord of the Universe!

I, Levi-Yitzchak, son of Sarah, of Berdichev,

Have come to You in a law-suit on behalf of Your people Israel.

No matter what happens, it is: “Command the Children of Israel!”

No matter what happens, it is “Say to the Children of Israel!”

No matter what happens, it is “Speak to the Children of Israel!”

Father, sweet Father in heaven! 
How many nations are there in the world?

Persians, Babylonians, Edomites...
The Russians, what do they say?

That their Czar is the only ruler.
The Prussians, what do they say?

That their Kaiser is supreme.
And the English, what do they say?

That George the Third is sovereign.
And I, Levi-Yitzchak, son of Sarah, of Berdichev, say:

“Hallowed and magnified be the name of God!”

And I, Levi-Yitzchak, son of Sarah, of Berdichev, say:

“Lo o-zuz mim-koi-mee! I will not stir from here!

An end there must be to this. It must all stop!

Yisgadal v’yis-ka-dash shmay rabah! Hallowed and magnified be the name of God!” …

Such yearnings and pleas are not exclusive to the Jewish people.  Most humans at some time make similar and fervent pleas. And yet, such requests to the Lord of the Universe, that “There must be an end to this. It must all stop” (for all humans), are not answered. We still wait.
With thanks to my sister Judy for bringing this prayer and the commentary to my attention through a D'var Torah (study of Torah) she led in 2012 on Parasha Va-era, Exodus 3:2 - 9:35. This Torah portion begins with God identifying Moses as the one to "go down to Egypt" and save the Children of Israel from slavery there and ends with a display of God's power when God brings down the first plagues on Pharoah and the people of Egypt.