The real reason behind my writer's blog-block.

Sunday. Just the thought of that word evokes feelings of long brunches, calling mom, and snuggling up on the couch to watch bad TV. For me, it’s blog day. If I haven’t written a blog by Sunday, or haven’t come up with a topic for one, I don’t panic, but I do feel an urgency to get something posted. As most bloggers will say, does anyone really notice? Do they even care? But I do.
So here I am, at 8:30 on a Sunday night, with nothing to say. I was about to post a column I wrote last month – from my back blog of ideas – for times like these. But it didn’t feel right. It felt dishonest. It occurred to me that it’s not that I don’t have anything to say, but that I’m actually not quite sure how to say it, or if I’m ready to.
I met someone. Five weeks ago. I’ve mentioned him briefly in my last few posts, unsure if the relationship was going to develop further, and I figured I’d cross the blog bridge when I got to it. And now I have. 
As I suspected, meeting him changed my outlook. I went to South Beach over the holidays. When I booked that trip, I was single, post break up, and intent on living it up and potentially meeting someone. http://bit.ly/h3tBfz  But after meeting this guy, my agenda changed. I thought we wouldn’t talk while I was away, but we ended up speaking every day, and by the time I got back to NY, we had fallen into a groove. We’ve spent almost every night together since I’ve been back.
So am I in a relationship now? It looks that way. Since I was married for so long, and have only had one significant relationship since (where we were friends first), this kind of progression is new to me. I’ve never actually been with someone whom I went on a date with, then five, then started to lose count, as the relationship organically deepened in a mature and romantic way.
Is he a cub? Well, he’s 9 years younger than me, so technically you could say he is. But when I am with him, I forget. He is wiser, more confident, and manlier than some men in their 40s and 50s. I’ll reserve that topic for a later and more in depth post, but for now, yes, you could say that after my public declaration that I will no longer date younger guys, here I am, doing it again.  Do I feel bad about it? Not at all. Not yet anyway.
Is he, or rather is it my surprise (and joy) that I am suddenly in a relationship, the reason I was stuck today and unsure what to write about? Probably.
Although I write this blog under a pseudonym, many of you who read it know me and are my friends, so this is new territory for me and my blog. I haven’t yet figured out whether I can continue to write about my romantic life, when there is actually someone I care about in it. It’s not the same thing as blogging about a blind date gone bad, or even an ex. This guy knows about my blog, and at my behest, respectfully does not read it.  He doesn’t want our dating to stop me from writing honestly, and he said he doesn’t mind if I write about him, as long as I don’t use his name. But the question is, do I want to expose myself, or taint the delicate stage we are in, of a new blossoming relationship, by putting it out there?
And lastly, I wonder, does it change the focus of my blog altogether, if I’m no longer single?
So I’m asking for advice from my readers. What do you think? Is it time to bring other benign topics back (like Mom, for example), or since the guy is saying he doesn’t care, should I just go for it?

My mother, the alcohol police.

My mother doesn’t drink. And she doesn’t understand why anybody would. Especially her own daughter.

Whenever I go out for dinner with my parents, I keep it to a two-drink minimum. Sometimes my father will order a bottle and embolden me. But most of the time, I figure it’s not worth the wrath. Or her sticking her nose in my mouth after dinner to smell how much I’ve actually drank. She almost always gets it right on the nose (pun intended).

So what better place for her to enforce her authority than at a wedding, where I’m locked in a banquet hall with her for six hours, and where the alcohol is free?
 
I knew what was coming. The last time I was at my cousin’s wedding in Israel, where everyone was drinking tequila, my mother kept appearing next to me, no matter who I was talking to, pretending to be interested in the conversation. But really she was interested in what I was holding in my hand. Sometimes she takes the glass from me and takes a sip, as if she enjoys the taste. She then holds the glass awkwardly for a moment and nods her head at who ever happens to be speaking, like she’s listening. And then in a flash, she’s gone. With my glass of wine.

So here we were yesterday, on our way to a wedding. My parents picked me up from the train station. They talked about what kind of food there would be and how hungry they were. But not me. I was thirsty.  My mom knew it. It was the elephant in the car we didn’t speak of. Instead she said, “Maybe you’ll meet someone at the wedding.”

Do you know anyone who’s met their spouse at a wedding? It’s been known to happen, although not to anyone I know. Or to me.

Especially not at a Jewish wedding. In New Jersey. Mom didn’t appreciate that comment. But I deemed it safer than saying I’d be more likely to have the energy to meet someone slightly inebriated, rather than cranky and hungover (I was both).

I wasn’t thinking clearly though. This wedding wasn’t a Jewish wedding. In fact, it was a unique mix of many rituals. It was lovely. The bride was Jewish and the groom Irish Catholic. In a sense, it was Jew-ish. Which meant plenty of interesting foods, eclectic music (ever danced a Jewish jig? It’s like the Horah with bagpipes), but more so, for this Cougel, it meant a vast buffet of attractive goys. Just the way I like em. And instead of a brisket and chopped liver station, we get a vodka station!

My mother was on my heels (should’ve worn my flats). She knows how to find me, no matter my attempts for evasion. This time it was under the guise of meeting her friends, all with Israeli names that blend together. “You remember Chava! From Josh and Rachel’s wedding ten years ago, right?” (The part she left out: “Or were you drunk?”)

No matter that my sister was drinking too, and that we were all having a blast. My sister is married with children. So unlike me, she’s “allowed.” The moral of the story is that once you’re the anointed F-up in your family, there is no getting out of it. So you might as well live up to it. I could have stuck to one glass of wine, and she still would have thought I was overdoing it. Because according to my parents, that’s my thing. Besides, what would they have to worry about otherwise? I’m doing a good deed. At least I’m giving them something to fix, and to bond over on the drive home down the turnpike.

Five hours into the wedding I met some interesting people, guys included. Some Jewish, some not. My parents and sisters were happy though. I wasn’t seated at their table, but rather at the “singles” table right beside them, where they got to watch the show with challah rolls in hand instead of popcorn. And mom got to keep her eye on me and my wine glass. This is akin to trying to make out in your basement when you’re 16 and your parents are upstairs. You can never relax because you’re waiting to get caught.

Mom – if you’re reading this – I am not a drunk. I’m over 21 and single, and that is what people do. I know we’ve had this conversation before, but I figured I’d disclaim it again here, in case your friends are reading this and will think your daughter has a problem. I have many, yes, but drinking is the least of them.

I got a ride home from the wedding with a very nice fellow, and the second I walked through the door, my mother called.
“How was it?”
“The wedding? I was there with you.”
“No, the ride with the guy.”
“It was nice mom. It beats the train.”
“Were you still drunk?”
( You’d think she’d be more concerned whether he was, since he was the one driving).
“No mom. Just tired.”
“You had six glasses, maybe seven. Didn’t you?”

Of course, she was right. As usual.

The upside? At least, with all this talk about drinking, she forgot to ask if I ate.

J-Cougar

What does a Jewish woman in her 30s, who lives in NYC and has parents like mine, do after the breakup haze has cleared? You guessed it. She joins J-date.

Yeah, I’m going there. I’m going to write the post that I think some of you expect, and probably want. Even though I believe I’ve been subconsciously avoiding it because 1) It seems to have jumped the shark in every relationship magazine, blog, column, etc. And I’m trying to do something different, damn it. And, 2) I’m cognizant that some ex’s and others (hi mom!) are reading this blog and I don’t want to ruffle any feathers. But then I thought, if I’m worried about that, what am I doing being a writer?

Okay, so what does a Cougel do now that she’s finally succumbed to online dating, and starts perusing the crowded market of profiles in search of a nice Jewish boy (I mean, man)?

She finds the non-Jewish ones.

Apparently I have a talent for this. I’m like a dog that’s been set loose in the yard and immediately sniffs out the one piece of bacon that’s buried six feet under. I didn’t do this on purpose; it was some unconscious instinct. The first five men whose photos I actually stopped at and thought, “Hmm, he seems manly, interesting,” not only had emphatically written, “Not Jewish” on their profile, but more specifically: “Will not convert.”

That’s presumptuous, I thought. I haven’t asked you to. I don’t ever use the word “chillax,” but kinda felt like it then.

That begs another question: What the hell are these goys (I mean guys—that was a typo), doing on J-date? That’s just plain sneaky. It’s no different than them showing up at my temple (if I actually went), when I’m having a good hair day. Or like my Jewy looking self showing up to lunch at a yacht club. Besides, how was I supposed to explain to my parents that I got on J-date to find a Jewish boyfriend, and they should be pleased, only to break the news that instead I found a goyfriend?

The thing is, while they might not be overjoyed, I know they would accept it. They just want me to be happy. And I don’t believe in closing any doors, in narrowing a pool that’s already small and shallow. Come to think of it, my last two boyfriends since my divorce – ironically, my only boyfriends – were not Jewish, and my parents liked them well enough. Although in retrospect, this was deviously well planned on my part. Both guys were young cubs, providing my parents with something more displeasing to focus on instead. My dad referred to one of them as my “oy-friend”(I am not making this up). So yes, the time has come for me to skew Jew.

Not that it stopped me from emailing the three non-Jews who intrigued me. I am a curious person, and when something puzzles me, I must get to the bottom of it. I asked them point blank:“So what are you doing on here?” One totally ignored me (I don’t blame him). The other two had interesting responses, and we’ve since begun a dialogue. One confessed that his boss is Jewish, and said that the caliber of women on J-date was better (no I cannot qualify “better” in this context). The other said he is a wedding photographer for mostly Jewish weddings, for couples who met on J-date. So he thought he’d give it a try. Why should he be on the outside looking in, when it was as simple as signing up?

Which made me wonder, is it really that simple? Can someone just log on, sign up to J?

Although I don’t know what I expected. It’s not like J-date has Jewish Border control, asking for proof of your J-dentity before being permitted entry. Besides, how would that be enforced exactly? That’s a topic for a whole other blog. Passing the Jewish test. Perhaps it could be questions like:“Do you know what shmutz means?” “Do you say “oy” more than once a day, and sigh heavily when doing so?” “Is your mother overbearing? “Do you know what guilt is?”

Or, because this always seals the deal for me: “Do you know what kugel is?”

Mr. Good Enough (Good enough for what, exactly?)

A few weeks ago, on the heels of a break up, I vowed to immediately “get out there.” No, not in that way. I didn’t want a new boyfriend, or even a casual hook up. I wanted to try and connect with more than just the fabric of my couch. A friend had invited me to a book reading for a friend of hers, one day after my break up, and without bothering to actually ask what said reading was for, I eagerly agreed to attend. A book reading! Isn’t that something a writer is supposed to do? Isn’t that the kind of event where I can not only learn something about my own writing pursuits, but also meet other writers? PS. When I told my mother I was going to start going to these things, she exclaimed, “Good! Maybe you can meet some men who have sold books!” (the operative word being “sold,” of course. As in, for money).

I pride myself on being punctual. And I got to the Borders on 57th St. and Columbus Circle right on time, to see Melissa Rivers behind a podium, speaking to a group of women who all looked like her. This was not the kind of reading I had in mind. Luckily, I was at the wrong Borders. The one I was meeting my friend at was on Park Avenue and 57th. I was going to miss most of it. When I finally arrived, I wandered into a similarly crowded and disorienting pocket of the bookstore. Women, all over thirty five, who looked like Melissa Rivers but Jewish (the hair, not the voice…ok maybe the voice too), were beaming with adoration at a skinny blonde woman on the podium, Lori Gottlieb. She was fielding questions with messianic zeal for her new book “Marry Him. The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough,” as if she was Dr. Ruth, Carrie Bradshaw, or Jesus Christ. She was saying something like: “If a hypereducated, ambitious woman is still single after age 35, it’s because she’s too picky.”

You know that tingling sensation, the indescribable kind whose symptoms resemble a panic attack? The kind experienced when you’re trapped in the back row of an airplane on a seat that doesn’t recline, for a night flight, and a family with three kids parks it in front of you? The kind of fright or flight feeling that courses through you when you’ve agreed to be set up on a blind date, and the moment you sit down across from the guy, you immediately wish you were blind?

One glance at this Cougarish pack of disciples (I don’t care that they were mostly Jewesses; they appeared too desperate, and not cute enough, to qualify as Cougelish) looking to this embittered women for answers was enough to trigger the equivalent of that anxiety. Not to mention that right on cue, my ex-boyfriend of barely 48 hours, texted me just then to say that he missed me. I should add here, that my ex-boyfriend is a decade younger than me. Yes, I fell for a Young Cub. But I’d argue that it was a mutual fall, with no hunting on either side (persistence is not the same thing). Pangs of regret hit me then – did I just lose my Mr. Good Enough? Was I too picky? Did the Cougel scare away the Cub by mentioning that big topic called “The Future” (and no, not in the cool sci-fi way).

I had to get out of there. I swiftly found my girlfriend and said, “Sorry, but this whole thing? It’s not for me.” She completely understood. “Why don’t you go upstairs to the café? I’ll meet you when it’s over.” My response: “Café? I’ll be at the bar at the Four Seasons.”

Little did I know, because I rarely frequent bars north of 27th street (that includes Hurray Hill, let alone the Upper Easy Side) what awaited me there. Men. Old men. We’re talking Papa Bears who’ve raised young cubs. Salesman. Semi-retired tech guys with homes in Miami and West Hampton. Dentists. All divorced at least once, and on the prowl for young Cougels – dressed in second-hand fake fur coats and ripped jeans – like myself.

The drinks these men bought me managed to do two things: take the reading’s edge off, and influence me to give out my phone number to one or two of them (not the dentist). It also reminded me that there is a whole world out there, not just outside the den, but above 27th Street.

But still, I had no desire to go out with any of them. Not then, anyway.

When Mom called the next day to ask me how my night of “getting out there” went, I told her that I had a good time.

She said, “Really? So you met guys at the reading?”

I told her that actually no, I met them “at a place called a bar,” but that none of them were for me.

“Why not?” I could tell in her voice she was already accusing me of being too picky.

“They were too old for me, Mom. Like over 50. And divorced.”

“So what?! They’re good enough.”