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Angels may come in all shapes and sizes. For Nir Manor, 27, from Ashdod, his angel is a blond-haired, blue-eyed woman from Los Angeles named Julia to whom he has dedicated the last seven years of his life.
He has never kissed her, never touched her - in fact, he has never even seen her in person.
An ICQ chat on the Internet with Julia on a visit to LA sparked a chain reaction in his soul, and he has never been the same.
From the moment they met online (she used the nom-de-plume Fire'n'ice; he was Beautiful Stranger), Manor was inspired to write poetry. Since losing connection with Julia via a software glitch, he's been looking to reconnect and show her what is in his heart.
Before Julia (he calls her Juli@), Manor was an average Israeli. He had finished his army service and worked for his parents' rechargeable battery factory in Ashdod.
"In the summer of 1999 I met an angel from the City of Angels. The day after seeing her picture, I started writing poetry and couldn't stop. I couldn't figure out if it was a gift, a curse or a disease, but I felt fate was guiding me to find her."
Manor calls himself The Psychic Poet.
Since his first Internet chat with Julia, Manor has written more than 120 poems and made several journeys to the US in an attempt to peddle his ballads to publishing agents. His ultimate dream is to hold a book-signing in Barnes and Noble next February 14, the day of Julia's birthday, and sign Julia's book in person.
"She doesn't know that she gave me this gift [of poetry]. She doesn't know the effect she has had on my life. She even changed my looks," says Manor, pulling out a driver's license that shows an earlier version of himself with short hair.
Clad in a white bard shirt and with long corkscrew curls that fall over his eyes, Manor is happy about how he has turned out.
For the past few years, he's been busy planning ways to turn his poetry into profit. He is hoping to win a book deal in the US and at the same time win Julia's heart. Getting that elusive book deal has brought out another creative side of Manor - how to brush shoulders with celebrities and agents. He spends an exorbitant amount of money to stay at the Ch teau Marmont on Sunset Boulevard. There and in other places he has met stars such as Harrison Ford, Calista Flockhart, Denise Richards, Keanu Reeves and Colin Farrell.
Most of the stars wouldn't even look at his poems, he says, except for Harrison Ford.
"He was different. Even though he is tall, he stooped down and looked me in the eye. This is proof of his greatness. The actors just starting out wouldn't talk to me."
Over the past few years, the celebs Manor has met have given him various kinds of advice, including Reeves who thought that some parts of Manor's poems seem to be disjointed. The meeting led Manor to uncover what he believes to be a previous life's connection to Julia.
Not too long ago, Manor decided he would take some of the stars' advice and make a show at the Lillian Theater in Hollywood. He printed 500 invitations and for a few days before the show walked from morning until night handing out the small red cards to agents and would-be talent scouts.
"I felt like my heart was giving me power. I never felt so alive in my life. I even had to buy orthopedic shoes."
What did his family think about this?
"I told them back home that I needed to go to LA for 22 days. I can't tell you, I said, because if I do you will think I'm crazy. My parents said I had already passed that point."
On December 30, 2005, the night of the show, the stage was set. Some 100 or so poems (to Julia) were arranged around the stage in the shape of a heart. The invites were out. On 99 seats of the theater were placed scripts of a Julia-inspired sitcom Manor had written.
No one came.
"I felt bad, but it didn't kill my spirit," he says.
Even though Manor clearly has the finances to hire a private detective (he stays at Chateau Marmont for up to $450 a night), he insists on finding Julia in his own creative way.
"I want to reach her in a special way. To give her the choice so she will decide."
Whether she wants him or not is not completely relevant to Manor. Julia has changed his life.
Before meeting Julia, he was like any other boy, confirms his mother, Hana.
Now he is different. "He has become creative and writes special poetry, in English," she says. "He has changed in a positive way. Every day he sits and writes and tries to improve himself to see how he can create."
Manor says his parents are not happy that he has become a poet.
"I work at my parents' factory. As owners of the business, they are looking for someone to continue their legacy. They don't believe in Julia. They think that maybe she is married and has kids. They believe in diplomas and want me to be a businessman," he says.
"In this world, in order to eat you have to work," responds his mother. "I told my son that being a poet is not enough for a person to have a family and put food on the table."
Does she think Julia exists?
"Yes, she exists. He spoke to her by e-mail [chat] and I saw the messages."
Is her son crazy for what he is doing?
"He fell in love. I don't understand it. Yes, it seems crazy."
"I'm not a stalker or psychotic," insists Manor. "I am talking about love and passion. I know that something is guiding me to her. She helped me access my heart. I think she triggered something. She will help me get to LA."
Professional writers usually read the work of others to learn and understand the trade.
"I never read any poetry," says Manor, "I read one other poet just to compare it to mine. I think my poetry is better. I don't force myself to write something - it comes automatically."
Manor isn't desperate to have his first kiss with a woman and get on with starting new relationships.
"I tried dating other girls, but my mind was on my poetry. My mind went back to Julia. I tore up the lists of girls I collected from [the Jewish dating website] JDate. I have written about dying even though I haven't died. I am writing about love even though I have never loved before. Julia woke me up and helped me start to live."
I seek you
ICQ is a simple, popular way to communicate online. Today, with more than 150 million registered users, ICQ is one of the largest and most active global communities, and a good way for people to find each other, meet, and chat over the Internet.
Internet users use it for business, talking with their friends and family and, in the case of Nir Manor, to find his muse.
The original company, Mirabilis, was founded in 1996 by three Israeli entrepreneurs who created and launched ICQ, the world's first Internet-wide instant messaging service. ICQ Inc. was created when America Online bought Mirabilis in1998.
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