Archive for December, 2009|Monthly archive page

Pacifying the Passive-Aggressive

In Drama, Roommates on December 21, 2009 at 11:09 pm

Cher Yenta,

My roommate bugs the ever-loving SHIT out of me and I can’t quite
explain it. The way she shuffles around the house in her slippers,
the way she leaves notes everywhere, the way she shames the world for
not being as “green” as she claims to be…I’m starting to answer
my own question here, but I wager you have some deep intimate



Killing Me Softly

Dear KMS,

I deeply empathize with you and your housing situation. Once upon a time I lived with 12 writers and artists. Sandwiched between two very poorly soundproofed rooms, I was woken up at multiple intervals in the night by each respective neighbor pleasuring their newly taken lover.

There are a million coping mechanisms when it comes to sound: ear plugs, a white noise machine, a humidifier, earphones, a fan. The list goes on. But coping mechanisms for passive aggressive environmentalists: that is tougher. See to know you are not alone.

One thing that helps when it comes to dealing with living with strangers is cultivating compassion. As cheesy as this sounds, I promise it helps. A lot of activists funnel their personal issues into the intricacies of their cause. So when she says “recycle” with a grimace, she might really be saying, “I had no control in my house growing up and was beaten with a belt so I am asserting my voice in my new Craigslist group home.”

Remember that your neighbor also suffers, and that this suffering is often the source of said irritating behavior. Also, some people never learned how to communicate directly. Showing a passive aggressive housemate that confrontation is acceptable, and does not have to be violent, might change things. After all, these annoying patterns often develop out of a childhood where expressing anger was never a safe option.

With my loud neighbors I worked on going inside myself. I made my room a near menagerie and found all the sound buffers I could. I also meditated in an attempt to really see why these people and their loud nature pissed me off so much. It often, I find, takes one to know one. Why, exactly, does her shuffling annoy you? Her passive aggressive nature, beyond the obvious? What in you is unsettled, and being brought up by living with a weirdo?

In that house of unstable artists I did end up moving rooms. In moving I learned that it is sometimes better to start anew than to learn from an itchy situation. In exiting I also realized how horrible my previous situation was, with the lack of privacy, respect, and personal head space. There is such thing as a roommate threshold, and depending on how sensitive you are, you may have just reached yours.

If you are living in a group house, remember that you always have the option to move, and in doing so, might find not only relief, but new and better horizons.

***For some help finding a place to calm yourself for free click here to find the Shambhala center in your city. They provide free meditation instruction, sitting sessions, and Buddhist study groups.

RIP Tai Frasier

In Uncategorized on December 21, 2009 at 8:50 pm

Brittany Murphy
11.10.1977 – 12.20.2009

Some of us were more influenced by Brittany Murphy as Tai Frasier in Clueless than others.

In a fight with her friend Cher, Tai spurts, “Why am I even listening to you to begin with? You’re a virgin that can’t drive!”

In a later interview about the role, Brittany Murphy said,
“It’s hard for me to believe it’s been 10 years since that movie. I really was a virgin who couldn’t drive. I was living in an apartment in the Valley with my mom – and I remember starting to see these huge billboards of us all over town. It was amazing!”

Murphy appeared on the following TV shows: Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, Frasier, Sister, Sister, Party of Five and Boy Meets World. If you grew up with TGIF early 90’s TV, or grew to enjoy King of the Hill’s Luanne, then this woman touched you.

Having memorized most of the lines to Clueless, I bow my head in rememberence of the quick flash that was Brittany Murphy’s contribution to the coming of age of myself and other 80’s babies.

When Your Lover Lacks

In Dating on December 21, 2009 at 12:47 am

Dearest Yenta,

My girlfriend has an extremely taxing job, regularly working 14 hours
a day. She’s really bad at giving me accurate time estimates — she
tells me 8, I think no earlier than 10 — and we live together, so
this has a real effect on my life and our plans. She also has a
stronger need of privacy than I do, so she won’t always tell me about
her schedule, new elements of her job that might affect our life
together, etc. The combo of her absence and her hesitancy to share
details with me make me really paranoid and sensitive, and I wind up
getting angry at her in a pouty, non-productive way. When were
together I am happy as a clam, but when were apart and incommunicado,
I go into a spiral of bad feelings and mistrust. I’ve tried to get
her to do little things that I know would calm me down (texting,
less-hopeful time estimates) but she can’t seem to do them.
Basically I’m at my wits end. She’s said that her hours aren’t
permanent, and I have no doubt of our feelings for each other, but I
just can’t cope some days…


In Need of New Strategy


You might not only need a new strategy, you might need a new girlfriend. The key to communication in any relationship is that both parties are involved. If you are reaching out and she is backing away, shirking her commitment to honesty, and generally ignoring your needs and requests than I can’t say I’ll fight for her right to have you. Especially since you sound kind, sincere and devoted, meaning you deserve an amazing woman with whom you feel safe and heard.

There are a few unknown factors that could mean she is worth keeping. How long have you been dating? Months? Years? Longer? If you have made a deep commitment over time, and this issue is suddenly coming up, then it is indicative of a need to sit down and see what is bubbling beneath the surface. Perhaps your “pouty” replies are yielding further deception. This could simply mean you need new relationship tools. Try
Communication Miracles for Couples: Easy and Effective Tools to Create More Love and Less Conflict by Jonathan Robinson.

If, however, this is a fairly new relationship or this has been going on for a very long time, chances are it is time to jump ship. Why? Because whenever you find yourself worrying about your relationship on a daily basis, or even weekly, something is wrong. Trust is something that is built between two people, and your girlfriend does not seem to value yours. If she did, she might try to accommodate your needs for clearer communication.

There is a difference between needing “privacy” and actively withholding information to drive your partner insane with unease. While you should, in theory, be able to accept your partner’s ways and still feel safe and loving towards her, these “ways” sound less a matter of character and more a matter of choice. Your lack of ability to “cope” some days may be reason enough to be brave, face yourself, and seek some therapeutic assistance in whatever form suits you. Choosing a relationship like this is reflective of deeper unmet needs and issues.

Tons of people have jealousy and trust issues, but a good and solid relationship should quell most of these fears. That happiness you feel in her company should carry over to the times without her. Balance between two people means that your weaknesses are different, so you can be strong for each other. If you have fears of abandonment and/or cheating, then you need a partner who you can be sure is being honest, forthright, and present so that your doubts never come up. As impossible as this sounds, it is feasible. For help with this try, Why Can’t You Read My Mind? Overcoming the 9 Toxic Thought Patterns that Get in the Way of a Loving Relationship by Jeffrey Bernstein and Susan Magee.

Generally we are taught socially to commit quickly, even if it isn’t right, and in this case it sounds like you might need to start going against the norm, get single, and find a woman who can really meet your needs so you don’t live in a constant state of anxiety. According to the Talmud, everyone has a beshert, someone they are meant to be with. I have faith in this idea, and believe that when you do find the right partner, a lot of this anxiety will melt away and loving will be the easy part.

Other things to help you on the path to good love:
Unplugging the Patriarchy by Lucia René
A Course in Love: A Self-Discovery Guide for Finding Your Soulmate by Joan M. Gattuso

Mother-In-Law, May I?

In Breakups/Divorce on December 20, 2009 at 12:21 am

Dear Yenta,

My husband left me and my son 6 months ago. His mother was a great
help to me and friend during and after the divorce. However, I found
out about 2 months ago that all her help was covered by lies. She was
trying to take my child away from me and telling people who live in
our small town that I am an abusive, neglectful mother who is ruining
my son. I confronted her about this and she did not deny any of it.
Since the confrontation, I haven’t seen her, or her husband. We
haven’t spoken, but she still tells people that I am a horrible
mother. Her son, my ex-husband, finally stood up to her and told her
to stop, but it hasn’t.
I feel like my son is going to miss out getting to know that side of
his family, but every time I try to mend the bridge between us, it
blows up in my face. I have quit trying, but feel like I should do
something. I am not a bad mom. I am neither neglectful or abusive. She
has not seen my son in 2 months, and I feel guilty for it every day.

-Mother-In-Law Mayhem

Dear MILM,

In Judaism there are strict laws about preserving life and health. I would apply those laws here, and be mindful of your own well-being. While it is sad for your son to lose his grandmother’s attention, it would be even sadder to lose the balance of his mommy.

Your mental and physical health are what should come first, so that in truth, you can put your son above yourself. If some woman is lying and cutting you down and trying to take you from your baby, and if you really are not neglectful nor abusive, then she is not a good human to keep near you or your son.

What happens now does not have to dictate what happens later. Perhaps after solidifying your role as mother in the midst of this divorce, and with time, this psycho mother-in-law will turn a corner and learn to re-enter your life with respect and self-control. Until then, maybe focus on the good figures in your son’s life.

When I was little and my grandparents couldn’t come to school, my mother’s cousin always came with me for grandparent’s day. Having an older woman who loves your child is the next best thing, and having your own dignity is priceless. Use all that wasted guilt energy on locating and luring in the many women in your life who I am sure adore your kid. Grandmothers come in all shapes and sizes. In these early years of your son’s life what is important is returning to the preservation of love and security in your home. That includes working hard to maintain your own mental health.

Are All Bartenders Perpetual Boys?

In Dating on December 19, 2009 at 11:58 pm

Dearest Yenta,

I did the unthinkable, or rather, performed the ultimate cliche, I
hit on a bartender. In fact, I didn’t even have the balls to do it
myself, so my more forward friend did it for me. It worked and
perhaps I should have had more faith. In any event, we have hung out
once already. But the question remains (having dated bartenders
before): are all bartenders boys (as opposed to men)?


Gentle Gentile

Dear GG,

Essentially you are asking if male bartenders are perpetual boys. I am hesitant to make a blanket statement here, after all, some of my favorite men have been barbacks.

To begin, what are the qualities of a good bartender? What gets one hired? They need to be friendly, or at least feign friendly with stellar people skills. This is one thing to remember when you meet a man behind a bar. His amicable nature may or may not have anything to do with liking you, as much as being damn good at his job.

They need to be tough enough to handle a loud room full of drunk people. This means that, depending on whether you frequent a dive bar, a hotel bar, or a sports bar the staff will be as hard as the customers, in order to create balance. So, toughness means bigger walls means less odds of getting through to their soft side quickly.

A bartender needs to not mind being around alcohol, all the time. When I was a waitress at a bar it wore on me. I didn’t drink much and felt weakened by handling liquor, giving it to people who clearly had an unhealthy dependency: ie, the man who needed five margaritas in two hours just to write a term paper, or the couple who got drunk on a couch and nearly made a baby in the middle of the restaurant at 11am. A bartender, a good one, needs to have a callous against the addictions and poisonous behaviors of others.

This might be indicative of a troubled past that conditioned him for this environment, a smart internal self-imposed division, or a strong attachment to perpetual adolescence. Because of the variety of venues, the good pay, and the pull from all different directions, bartenders run the gammet. I’ve known PhD students, cheerleaders, photographers, punk rockers, hairdressers, architects, activists, musicians and philosophers all who tended bar.

Also, keep in mind what a bar is. It is not a temple or a silent retreat. It is a place where people go to enjoy liquor. Some enjoy it for the art of the beverage, connoisseurs of fine tastes. Others arrive, en mass, to blow off steam. Bartenders can be therapists to these people. Some people go to bars for fun, for long late hours, and others go quite specifically to get laid. This is the fast-paced money-making environment your bartender beau chose to enter for work, with rough hours and lots of people hitting on them into the wee hours of the night.

So, this idea of man as boy might just be your witnessing all of these qualities in an individual who, again depending on the bar, may live at a perpetual party. I know solid married bartenders, monogamous bartenders, and bartenders who might as well be teenaged boys attempting to screw as many people as possible before they die. Choose your bartender based on bar, clientele, his outside interests/well-roundedness, and your own basic instinct. And remember, there are no rules. After all, Miranda found the father of her child in a lovely bartender.

She Reads His E-mails, All The Time.

In Dating, Drama on December 18, 2009 at 6:19 am

Dear Yenta,

I read my boyfriend’s e-mail. What started innocently enough (he
asked me to check his email for him when he didn’t have access to a
computer) has manifested itself into a daily obsession. Part of me
likes keeping tabs on what he’s up to and who he’s communicating
with when I’m not around. Quite often he tells me a story of an
e-mail he received from so-and-so and I have to pretend like it’s the
first time I’ve heard about this although I’ve already read the

If I read something upsetting about me in one of his e-mails (like him
telling a friend how we got into a fight, etc.) I get pissed off. Of
course I can’t tell him outright that I’ve been reading his e-mails,
so it manifests in some other way.

I know I should stop this ugly behavior, but I can’t. What should I

-Nosy and Out of Hand


Lady, you need to stop and you need to stop now.

You have taken reading emails to a grand new level. It sounds complicated and intricate, all the information you are gathering, and it reveals a lot about your relationship. You have built dishonesty and evasive behavior, embedded it into the walls between you and your boyfriend. This is a loud screaming red siren if I ever saw one.

What we need to wonder in trying to get you to quit, is why this is so alluring. Sure, reading diaries and looking into the lives of others is fascinating. According to an article by the UK Daily Mail, “One in five couples admit to ‘snooping’ by reading each other’s texts and emails.” But you have turned “snooping” into an obsession. This obsession is grounded in a giant power trip, one that hands you a giant emotional upper hand invisible to your man.

What happens if you quit? Hmm? What would make discarding this habit so difficult? For one, you would lose the power dynamic you have now, possibly leaving you starving later. What does this show you about you and your boyfriend? Why don’t you trust him? Why is lying so comfy? This habit reveals some deep-seated insecurities that might need to be solved with some time away from your lover.

How to stop? Quit. Cold Turkey. Talk to him. Address your fears and insecurities about your relationship, stop the giant game you are playing. Get him to change his password. This is a big one. Tell him to change his password, that you are tempted to read his mail all the time and that you would rather not have the temptation. That is a little honest and a lot better than always, forever more, having the option to dip back into his pool of information.

Or lie, say something about how passwords need to be changed, generally. Password = ticket in. You need your ticket confiscated, stat. Evaluating your ties to this bad habit might make quitting easier, that, and you might learn something about what put you in this awful position in the first place. Something about your own personal problems is being glaringly revealed by this scenario.

This sounds like no fun at all. It sounds hard and painful, all that you know each day. The question remains, as with any addict, where does your rock bottom lie? When will the torture of being in a deceptive relationship outweigh the thrill of probing into someone’s every email and then lying to their face while you tell them you love them?

Or, your boyfriend already knows you read his e-mails, and lets you enjoy the pleasure. That changes the power dynamic for sure.

Advising the Virgin

In Sex on December 17, 2009 at 8:31 am

Advice Recall:

Annie’s Mailbox®, by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, December 15, The Santa Fe New Mexican

Dear Annie: I am a 24-year-old female and a virgin, not because of any moral objections, but because I have had a hormone deficiency since I hit puberty.

I know guys are interested in me. I have always turned them down because I never had any desire for a physical relationship. However, I talked to my doctor and am now taking hormones to correct the problem.

I recently met someone who interests me. If I take it to a physically intimate level, should I say anything about my inexperience? If so, what is the best way to have that conversation? I am afraid my extended period of celibacy might make a more experienced person nervous or turned off. — Rather Embarrassed in Minnesota

Dear Minnesota: You are young enough that your status is not an issue. Many women your age and older are still virgins. More importantly, we guarantee men are not bothered by this, and in some instances, it will have the opposite effect. Most men like to believe they are your first. If you become intimate, it’s OK to say you don’t have prior experience. The guy will take it from there.

Take Two:

Dear 24 Year-Old Virgin:

Virgin “Status” is NEVER a true problem. And “The guy will take it from there…” this is the reason why so many marriages end in premature divorce.

You never know what you will get with a lover. Some are sensitive to sexual needs, and insensitive on the surface. Some are sensitive on the surface, and insensitive in bed. Some are sensitive overall and lacking sexual knowledge.

Take it from “there” before the guy does so for you. You never know what kind of man you have on your plate. If he knows a lot about pleasing a woman, then you will end up in good hands. Don’t run the risk of sexual dissatisfaction: be proactive.

My advice to you is not to ever feel ashamed about your virginity. When and if you do decide to grace a partner with your body, I wish you good and open communication. Whether you lose your virginity at 14 or 40, it is your ability to communicate your needs, and the receptivity of your lover that might make or break the experience. So yes, tell him the truth.

You can practice communication in line at the supermarket. “Hand me a plastic bag, please?” It can be cultivated over time. There is no rush. When the time is right I hope your virginity turns YOU on, and that losing it is as fulfilling as chastity.

Orgasmo Addendum

In Sex on December 16, 2009 at 7:04 pm

In regards to Summed Up By His Size, one “Ben M” writes:

Re: “A well-trained woman can come without even being touched”

Isn’t this oversimplifying things? Some women have trouble O’ing because of psychological and biological issues. I heard 30% can’t orgasm at all, let alone without being touched.

Yenta replies:

Thanks for your comment. I don’t think this is oversimplification, just blind faith in the female body and its ability to reconnect with itself, no matter the hormonal or psychological explanation for orgasm blockage. Despite what modern medicine tells us, women have a profound ability to heal.


Contrary to popular belief, regardless of the many factors cited for a woman’s inability to orgasm, I believe that with the right help every woman can come. This might mean needing psychiatric attention around emotional issues related to sexual abuse, religious shame, or any number of other issues related to the mind and body. It might involve getting in touch with a body that was underattended for years, or learning about her own parts. This could involve giving oneself permission to feel pleasure, or finding a trusting partner.

Citing the possibility that some women can come without touch is to raise the bar on a woman’s expectations for pleasure. Medical rationale for a life without orgasm often sells women short, way before they begin teaching their body and training the muscles involved in orgasming. For some it takes time, patience, and practice.

I give every woman a 100% guarantee that she IS capable of achieving orgasm. It is a lot like learning yoga. No, not everyone can do a headstand on the first try, or even sit cross-legged for that matter. But through training the mind, strengthening certain muscles and learning about the body these positions are eventually possible.

E-mail me with the parameters of your problem, and I will do my damnedest to solve it.

Summed Up By His Size

In Sex on December 16, 2009 at 7:24 am

Dear Yenta,

I recently started seeing a very nice man. He is sweet, kind, has a
job, and is wonderful with my child. We get along really well and have
a great time when we are together, but there is a problem. He has a
very small penis. When I say small, you must understand that it is so
small that I can not feel it inside of me. I am not even sure it was
inside me. This is not an issue for me because I can not reach orgasm
through intercourse, only oral, but it is an issue because I feel like
faking it during sex is a lie, and I want to be as honest as I can
with this man.

-Little Bits

Dear Little Bits,

I don’t understand? What, exactly, are you not faking? Sex is way more interesting, complex and expansive than how you are viewing it.

I believe Samantha coped with the same exact problem on Sex and the City when she was sure she had finally met the man of her dreams. She ended up leaving him, devastated.

But this is real life and you are not Samantha. Some might tell you to skip town on this man and his tiny package, but I don’t believe in quitting without putting up a solid fight.

This being said, when a man puts a finger inside of you, do you feel it? Probably. So this man’s thing is detectable. There are plusses and minuses to every penis size. Some people are never satisfied, it is always too big, too small, too thick. What is important is a) that you like this guy and b) that you attempt to learn to love his parts.

This is a great opportunity for slower more sensual moves on your end. Or even speedy, but the key is noting the nuance of sensation. Rather than focusing on your attachment to the last giant you screwed, focus instead on your own nerve endings, making a point to feel any and everything so that when the edge of this man even brushes your insides, it makes you insane.

A few other tricks: try a vibrating cock ring ($12-$79), although note this warning. Also try new positions, for example, one woman suggests to try it with your legs squeezed shut, and be patient, your body will readjust to his size over time. For more positions and ideas on making love to a smaller man, click here.

In fact, this dude is the perfect opportunity for you to exercise those kegels and get to learning how to train your vaginal walls to come from intercourse alone. I believe Freud refers to this as the true maturity of a woman. Although, he was mostly offensive and sexist.

It is lazy lovemaking to depend on the man’s size for satisfaction. A well-trained woman can come without even being touched, a shaft simply a bonus prize. In fact, it is almost rude to give up because of some preconceived notion that size is the only byway to pleasure. Pleasure comes in all shapes and packages and it is up to every single individual to learn to grow per partner.

Caught in a Cat Fight

In Drama on December 16, 2009 at 4:00 am

Dear Yenta,

I introduced my friend Jane to my larger group of friends, helped her get a job and a place to live and still keep in fairly close contact with. We share a
mutual friend, Sally, who is upset that Jane does not spend enough time with her and make enough “effort” in the friendship. Jane talks crap about Sally when I see her and Sally talks crap about Jane – down to intimate opinions each one has about their significant others. I find both of these friends have a troublemaking, frenemy side and try to keep my relationship on the surface, but find these point-blank attacks by one friend on the other difficult to deal with. I don’t want to take sides…even if I agree with Jane that Sally’s bf is not a good match for her or agree with Sally that Jane needs intensive counseling.

How should I deal without taking sides or looking
like I’m in cahoots with one over the other?


Bite marks from a fight between two vicious women.

Dear Tug-of-War,

Lady, just don’t take sides, period. There is no rule in life that you need to be sucked into other people’s drama. This from an expert at drama suckage.

You need to set some limits for Sally and Jane. Try being HONEST and saying you would rather have some sort of pact that you don’t talk about each other. Just be frank, explain that you love both of your friends and would like to not hear about them. It is an awkward and uncomfortable limit at first, but I guarantee that phase will pass. Soon you will find you can talk to Jane and Sally about OTHER things.

When I was a waitress a customer once told my coworker that whenever you talk about other people it is for a reason. The reason could be boredom, lack of interest between you and the conversant, any number of things. Rarely when we talk about others does it come from a sincere space of need. As Buddhist Dharma Punx master Noah Levine once said at Rebel Saint Buddhist in LA: “Whatever people are saying behind your back is none of your business.”

Build yourself a new spine and evade this perpetual cat fight. The world is your oyster.