Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bitter, Cynical and Desperate

I've disappeared for a while. Here's my excuse.

"Do me a favor, and don't ever show that to any guy you want to marry, OK?"

"Isn't it a bit late for you to be telling me this now? I already showed it to him." Not to mention to a few hundred blog readers. But she doesn't know about that.

"Oh, you were obviously trying to scare him off, last night."

"I was?"

"Yes. That story shows the worst side of you, the cynical side. It doesn't give a flattering picture of its author. Any decent boy who reads it will run a mile."

"You could have told me that when you read it."

"Well it is well written. But, sweetheart, I know you, you're not like that."

"I was trying to copy Dorothy Parker's style."

"But did Dorothy Parker ever get married?"

I don't remember the answer. I guess it's a no.

"Men don't want to marry Dorothy Parkers. Or Jane Austens. Good writers don't make good spouses."

I'm stunned. There goes my dream.

"Don't worry, when you're married you'll become softer."

I didn't realize I needed to become softer. I liked myself the way I was.

"But I'm writing the truth. Dating is like that." Of all people, I thought she'd understand. She's pretty critical herself of many things in the Shidduch world.

"It may be the truth, but there's no need to focus on the negative. You're telling him that you're desperate, and that's the only reason you're dating him."

Now I'm scared. "The character in the story isn't me!"

"Yeah, right."

Oh no. I hope he didn't think that too. Can’t I write about a single girl, without her being me?

"The only type of person who'll like your stuff will be bitter and cynical too. Is that the type of person you want to marry?"

I thought I'd learned how to let criticism run off me, like a river down stone, without penetrating. I thought I didn't care what people thought, I had enough inner confidence.

I guess it's different when it's someone you love, someone you've looked up to, your whole life, someone whose advice you usually follow.

For days I walked around with the same question. "Am I bitter, cynical and desperate? Does my writing sound that way?"

I asked everyone I knew who'd read my blog, or who'd read some of my writing. They said enough to make me laugh, to still the panic. They warned me I better get a cholera vaccine before I print my novel, because Jane Austen died of Cholera.

But I notice now, as the crumbs of Matza settle, that I haven't written since then, since that conversation. And maybe it's not just because I've 'been busy'.

I start writing a sweet little story, a story even Mishphacha would publish. "At least this story isn't cynical", I tell myself. Then I realize what I'm saying, what I'm doing. I get stuck half way through. The words feel corny. There's so much else I want to say. I miss writing. I miss blogging.

I've discovered another stage to growing up. It's learning that the people you love the most, even they can't always understand. They can be wrong about life, about you. You've just got to let go, and carry on, and do what you believe in.

Because I don't want to get married and start thinking life is a fairytale. I don't want to forget what dating was, what this stage was like. I want to remember, always. I want to be able to understand other people, to help other people, going through similar things. Not to begin spouting platitudes and becoming 'softer', and 'sweeter'.

So Shavua Tov, Blogosphere. I'm back.


  1. WTG, girl! You tell it like you see it; don't let anyone try to change that. The right person will love you for it.

  2. I think disillusion is worse than honesty, even if it's painful at times.

  3. Why would you want to internalize such a difficult part of your life? Move on, mama.

  4. Welcome back.
    This post made me sad. :( People often say insensitive things- don't let it get to you.

    I liked how you ended it. It's always good to use your struggles to help others. Keep up your writing- that's your passion and you're great at it.

  5. Many intelligent men would be supportive of honest analysis and contemplation. And yes, your perspective will indeed soften with a lover and life partner. We all walk our individual paths on life.

  6. Welcome back! Anyone who doesn't accept you is not the right person for you. Keep on writing, keep on looking and I hope you find your soul mate. Just maybe he will be a bit more open minded than all those average yeshiva-bochurs you seem to be meeting.

  7. Firstly, Jane Austen died of a long, debilitating illness; opinions are Addison's Disease, lymphoma, or tuberculosis.

    I have had family members (specifically one annoying brother) who say things like "Guys don't like girls who _________." I'm not marrying "guys." I, mit Gut's helf, am marrying THE guy, who maybe was told in his life "Girls don't like guys who ___________."

    Keep the faith. No matter how one goofs up, supposedly, the Eibishter has your man lined up.

    I wrote a short story for college about shidduch dating, keeping it upbeat. A gentile girl in my class found the end (the proposal) sad. Some see what they want to see in other's writing. Maybe someone else read your story and derived something more cheerful.

  8. welcome back! i love your writing and think it just shows a realistic picture.. nothing bitter about any of it - and sometimes your really funny! so keep it up - and the right one will be thrilled with such a talented wife!

  9. thank for returning!
    i've been checking your blog every few days over pesach and i've been missing your posts heaps!
    Particularly as somebody feeling the same way in Australia, it's great to know that even people across the world are experiencing the same difficulties.
    keep up the great work!

  10. Hi. This is the first time I have commented on your blog. I have recently discovered your writing, and must say that I have been very impressed with your writing. As one who also traffics in the art of words, I felt the need to comment here. I am also Jewish, and so I have a clear idea of the pressure you are under as a young, frum woman.

    After reading this, I feel the need to tell you that there are a lot of good men out here who do want a spouse who writes. A good, decent man will support you and your passions. And a good, decent man will have enough confidence in himself to understand that he can share you with your own dreams, too. I commend you for your honesty and your bravery in your writing, and applaud you for your willingness to share it with all of us and with the people close to you. If a "boy" runs down the street because he is scared of your intellect and abilities, then he is not the MAN for you. (And for the record, I love your attempt at Dorothy Parker's style, and yes, she did marry. But, like everything, marriage alone is not the point in which a woman's life ceases to exist and pure happiness takes over, trust me.)

    If you feel the urge, my own blog is open to you. I admit that it is a great deal different from your writing style and experiences. You may not agree with my personal and political views on things, but I warmly invite you to explore and hopefully enjoy seeing what happens when a young, Jewish girl decides to live her dream.



  11. Oh thank goodness! I was getting worried! Thank you for bringing back your beautiful writing! May many blessings come your way for your inspiring strength! I hope to learn from your example!

  12. Miss you, glad you're back! :)

    However, I have to disagree with the whole "never wanting to lose your hard edge/remembering what this stage of your life was like" attitude.

    As annoying as it is to hear, guys DON'T like hard-edged cynical girls who are defensive and slightly bitter and out to prove that they aren't nebach cases just cause they're single. Which is frustrating, because most older single girls (and even lots of younger ones who have been dating for a few years) do just that. Not saying that you're like that - but that's what people mean when they talk about guys not liking hard-edged girls.

    And when you DO get married - soon! - your husband will like you for you, hard edges and cynicism and all. HOWEVER, there is much to be said for become "softer". Keep in mind, much of what is driving your "hard edge" is the struggles you have now. Marriage brings with it a whole new set of struggles, but not being single anymore is a tremendous relief. You won't be writing angsty, edge prose about dating and meeting boys and the messed up shidduch system. And I hope your marriage is happy and stable enough that you won't feel the need to write about marriage in that way, either.

    So in that roundabout way, that's all I'm saying. Once this particular series of struggles is over for you when you walk down that aisle, parts of you will soften just because of circumstance.

  13. Go outside of your envelope, attend poetry reading, relax, and make your girlfriends that understand you be your matchmakers.

  14. Everyone is entitled to a cynical comment here and there. It comes hand in hand with having a sense of humor.
    I don't think your blog is cynical in general quite the opposite. That said, I can see how the last post might give the wrong impression to someone who does not yet know you well enough.
    Seeing the last post in isolation and seeing the whole picture are two very different things.

  15. Thanks you everyone for your comments! It's a great welcome back!

    Ps. Ooooh, Troi, a short story about shidduch dating?! Do I get to see? Maybe it can be a guest post?

  16. Welcome back.
    Don't know who Jane Austin is but try not to get any diseases before your story is done!

  17. I remember writing morbid poetry and prose in high school. I'd have to "nicen" it up before I could show it to anyone in Yeshiva.
    What a killer! I stopped writing for a long time because of how "cheap" it felt.