One of Ilysa’s favorite jobs was working at a coffee shop while she was in college. So it was fortuitous that I had her meet me at one to talk. Sometimes when I meet with people, it takes a bit of time for me to get a handle on their personality. Not with Ilysa. She’s nice. She’s personable. She’s never had a job she didn’t like. And she currently has two of them. She’s the youth director at Temple Ahavat Shalom, a reform synagogue in Northridge. And she works with special needs kids in a middle school in Van Nuys, where she grew up. “It’s been an amazing ride, and I love it, but it’s the school district, so it’s kind of a mess. But when you get the right group of kids, it’s an incredible job. It can go from disheartening to a high in the span of a day.” Today ended on a sad note as one of the kids was arrested in a drug bust. “It’s not in a great area, so they don’t have the opportunities that I had. It’s sad, which is why I love working with the kids at the temple. It’s such a different dynamic. They’re not all well-to-do, but they have a different vision and a different view of the world, so it’s really nice to see positivity and also to be the positive influence in their life, and to see it really helps then and there.” She’s so enthusiastic that I assumed she was new to her jobs. But she’s worked at them for 14 years and 13 years respectively. She’s just one of those people you wish you’d had in your life when you were a kid. As a depressed teen, I could have used a smiling face like hers.
Ilysa loves traveling. She tells me about Costa Rica, Argentina … and New York City. It takes me a second to register what she’s said. “You’re 37, and you just saw Manhattan for the first time?” She laughs. “I know. And I’m a Jew.” She loved the city. She loved the people, the culture, the walking. “I like people [who are] up late at night — [they were] so friendly. I had a great time.”
Ilysa’s ready for a serious relationship with a man. She wants kids — “in some capacity.” She wants him to have “a good, set group of friends because I think that it’s important to have a separation a little bit.” She also wants him to be able to financially support himself. “I tend to date men who are a little bit taller than me — I’m 5-foot-5. I’m not really into the super-skinny man, but I don’t necessarily have a preference like that. I want someone who’s able to go to a baseball game with me and have a nice time and be OK when I shout at the batter for swinging like it’s golf.” She always looks at a man’s eyes. “When someone has laughter in their eyes — lightness in their eyes — that’s a big turn-on. It’s wonderful. It’s comforting. Someone who’s positive. There’s too much negativity in the world.”
I ask her what makes her difficult. “I’m a woman,” she jokes. “I’m emotional. I wear my heart on my sleeve big-time. I’m a sap. I think that can be kind of difficult. [But] I don’t hold a grudge. I usually get over things pretty quickly. Sometimes I feel I should hold it a little longer.”
I tell her that she’s really great at talking about herself — both good and bad. “I have two brothers who tell me what’s wrong with me — they don’t hold back.” She takes a sip of coffee. “I seem self-assured, but I’m pretty sensitive.”
Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.