1. I read Away with my book club. I liked it, and so did the roommate. No one else did. It was my first book club meeting, which was interesting. A varied group of people, and just like in class, there are some people who are smarter or more intellectual than others, and you can't tell the others to shut up because they are adding nothing to the discussion. I really liked the girl who was leading the discussion, though. If I remember correctly, she's a teacher.
At any rate, you should all read it and let me know what you think.
2. A little while ago, Esther Kustanowitz emailed me (and her whole list) a blog posting by XGH about how Esther missed the point in dating. Or she isn't dating correctly. I found his piece to be very interesting (no, seriously) and it made me think about a couple things:
A. We're told from childhood that we're "special" and "unique" then we grow up, are thrown into a new environment (often a city, it's easier to date and get married in a small town/small pool) and told to find someone like us. It's a pretty large order, especially for those who don't have a tight-knit community and the automatic filters of Orthodoxy. It can seem so overwhelming, so people HAVE to define boundaries, (like I want someone who covers her hair, but wears pants) if only to be able to start selecting.
B. We're also told that we shouldn't "settle," but also that "no one is perfect" and that "people can change" but "you shouldn't try to change someone." So what are we supposed to do? Pick someone whom you like the way that they are, but maybe they could be better, but they have to be pretty good already, or else you're worried that you could "do better." It is all a bit confusing. When people are "too picky" I think it comes from a place of not knowing HOW to choose, and making, sometimes arbitrary decisions.
As a corollary to that: while the characteristics that XGH lists (looks, money, family, etc) shouldn't be the only ways that you measure a possible mate, neither should you ignore them. For instance, I have an ex whose family was totally crazy. It wasn't just an issue of when we saw them, but also the example it set for him in terms of interpersonal relationships. He was really nice most of the time, but didn't get that when you're angry, you can't make personal attacks against someone you love. Well, you can, but you shouldn't. It made it impossible for me to be around him anytime that he was frustrated or angry, because I'd be worried that he'd take it out on me. I found myself avoiding conflict, etc, etc. Same sort of deal with looks. If you aren't attracted to someone, you just aren't. That is fine. You shouldn't canonize some ideal of beauty and look for that, but if you happen to have a thing for redheads (as I used to), or smaller women, or whatever, that isn't a bad thing. You have to build a life with someone, and that includes an intimate life. If you aren't attracted to them, your relationship, no matter how spiritual it may be, is not complete*.
C. I believe that if you are unmarried up to the age of 30, that it is possible that it just didn't click for you (I also believe that, on some level, everyone has the love life that they want, but we can talk about that later), but after 30 maybe you should start looking at yourself. The longer you stay single, the more set in your ways you get. That said, I'd rather be single at 35 than compromise and marry some guy just for the sake of getting married. XGH and I might disagree on whether or not marriage is an end in an of itself. I don't want to be married for the sake of being married, I want to find the one for whom my soul calls out (NB: CJ and I have been dating for a year, this week), and I don't think that, that is unreasonable.
*This assumes that you are attracted to other people. If you're asexual, go for it. Also, you don't need to be THE MOST attracted to your mate, but there has to be something.