Friday, December 25, 2009

Go Prudie!




I fully expected a PC response about how her boyfriend should open up to the wonders of a secular Christmas--the general line fed to us by the media. I was pleasantly surprised by her response. She gets it. Christmas is a Christian religious holiday. And if you want Jewish kids, you raise them in a Jewish house--celebrating Jewish religious holidays.

There is also the issue of disrespect to Christians. Having had a few devout Christian friends over the years, and having spent a year living with a very devout Christian, I cannot help but think that if I were Christian I would find this practice of non-Christians appropriating Christmas as a non-religious holiday a bit offensive. Think about it. Christmas is the the day in which believers celebrate the birth of Christ and the birth of their faith, a new era and so on. This is one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar, no? How can it possibly be respectful to effectively say "Yeah, well, I think your religion and your version of G-d is so much bullshit, but hey, I'll take the tree. And the gifts."

Something just seems....off....

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ray, If I Had A Vote, I Would Give It To You

I stumbled across Ray Hanania's campaign for a Two State Solution and the Presidency of the Palestinian State while on Facebook (where else?). Intrigued, I followed link after link until I finally arrived at the Source--the Yalla Peace Website. Where I found outlined, in orderly bullet-point form, Hanania's Platform. How to divide up the land. What to do with the Palestinian refugees and the refugee camps. What to do with the settlers and the settlements. The payment of reparations to Palestinian and Jewish refugees. Apologies...by both sides. Cooperation...by both sides.

Peace.

Do I agree with everything in the Platform? No. Do I believe the Platform to be feasible? For all that the remaining bit of optimist in me says "well, why not?", my more dominant cynical and pessimistic self says "f**k no--the ______ will never allow it". (The blank can be filled in with any number of Israeli and Palestinian groups I believe to be obstacles to peace).

Do I believe the Platform to to be a most sane and most reasonable starting point than anything I have read in years? A proposal that actually takes the needs of both sides and the current reality (we are here, they are here, no one is going to disappear any time soon) into account? Yes. Without a doubt.

Mr. Hanania, I suspect that an endorsement from me, a Jewish and proudly Zionist Israeli, will do you more harm than good. (Not so much harm, as neither I nor my blog are particularly important. But, whatever.) Nonetheless, kol ha kavod, more power to you. I hope you win, because if you do, we all do.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Travails of a Non-Traveller

One of my items on my to-do list for my vacation (because I do not do anything, even go on vacation without a to-do list and goals and all that) is to finish writing up and mapping my ten-year plan. I have been working on the Plan for close to a year now and really, this is getting ridiculous. “Gila” I told myself “at this rate you are going to spend the next ten years just planning the Plan. Dai kvar. Enough already. You are going to finish mapping over vacation and as soon as you are home, you are going straight into implementation mode.”

So, it is now day three of my vacation and while I have actually written anything down, I have been working mentally, you know, thinking about it. And I think I am going to have to change a part of the plan. The part that deals with travel.

You see, my 10-year plan includes a fair amount of travel. This is because I have always thought it would be great to be one of those cool, interesting people who just pick up and jet off to Barcelona for the weekend. Who can toss their passport, a laptop and a change of underwear in a bag and be ready for a month-long trek to Thailand. “You too can be one of those adventurous people,” I told myself. “Just put it in your ten-year plan. Make it happen!”

Sadly, I now see that this is not going to happen. I am just not a traveler. In fact, it is entirely possible that I am the worst traveler ever.

You see, I am one of those nervous, high-strung travelers. The type whose mental circuits are completely overwhelmed by the mere prospect of dealing with an airport. I fret. Days, WEEKS ahead of any trip are spent worrying that: I will not get to the airport on time; that I will forget my passport; that I will forget my e-ticket; that the airport people will not let me on the plane; that the airport people will not let my luggage on the plane; that I will miss the damn plane. My preparations for this trip included emails and phone calls to the US embassy, the German embassy and Lufthansa all to ensure that my luggage and I would be allowed to board the plane.

It should be noted that all of this is before I even get on the plane, at which point I could theoretically start worrying that the plane will crash. However, oddly or ironically enough, that does not worry me at all. Not that I think it cannot happen. Of course it can. Rather, if the plane goes down, I am most likely going to die and there is not a damn thing I can do about it. So why worry?

But…back to why I am not relaxed about. I am a bad packer. Even though I know I should, I do not travel light. How not light? It goes without saying that I travel much heavier than my sister, a seasoned world traveler. But, if my father is to be believed, I travel heavier than he and my stepmother combined. Should he be believed? Probably not. No matter—either way is that the truth is that I do not travel light. But, you know…I need this and I need that and I can hardly do without that…and I pack and repack at least five times and by the time I am done, I have managed to cram approximately a zillion pounds of stuff I need into my suitcase. Which I then have to somehow maneuver to and through the damn airport and convince the airport people to please please please allow me to put it on the plane.

But what about the non-travel part of travelling? The being places part of travelling? I do like being places, but I also hate being away from home. I get homesick easily. I miss my morning regime: 5% gvina levana (a white cheese with the consistency of sour cream) over chopped vegetables with a teaspoon of olive oil and dashes of hot paprika and zahatar. For the last three days, I have been eating fruit yogurt instead. It is tasty—do not get me wrong. My dad, he is good at the yogurt selection. Still…it is not the same. I miss my bed. I miss my apartment. I spend much time worrying about what is happening at the office. I miss my friends. I miss my life.

Sigh….

Okay….out you go then. One less section to map, at least.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Jennifer and the Wicked Bitch

Once upon a time, long ago, in a land far away…. I was an extremely odd, socially backwards little girl, and then a pre-teen and then a teenager. I was called Jennifer, in those days. In that same distant place and time also lived another little girl who also became a pre-teen and then a teenager. Let us call her the Wicked Bitch, shall we? We will call her that because she went out of her way to make my life miserable. School, summer camp…you name it, the Wicked Bitch was there with taunts and cruel nicknames.

Yesterday, the Wicked Bitch sent me a friend request on Facebook.

To say that this came as a shock is an understatement.

I knew she was on Facebook. My 20 year high-school reunion was this year, and the organizers set up a Facebook page. I saw her picture (and those of her associate Wicked Bitches) and thought to myself "Oh my, it is the Wicked Bitch! Man, but I do hope she is having a terrible life!"

Mature reaction? No. Understandable? Yes.

I considered contacting her. Not to be her friend, of course. I wanted to tell her off. To tell her that she is evil. To remind her how mean she was to me. To make her acknowledge the pain she caused me. To make damn sure that if the day ever comes that one of her children runs home crying because someone was mean to him or her…that she will remember that back in the day, she was the one causing pain. I thought about giving back some of the pain she caused me. Let it eat at her a bit.

In the end, I refrained. There were several reasons for this. First and foremost—it would have been stupid and immature. I did have a disorder and I was weird and I did have major social issues. Had the roles been reversed, would I have been nicer? Perhaps…but probably not by much. Children are children and teens are teens. What, if I had been normal I would have been the Mother Theresa type? I doubt it. "Gila" I told myself "be honest here. Okay, maybe you would not have tormented you, but you would not have been friends with you either".

But no less important is that for all that her name is the same, and her face is the same, the Wicked Bitch I knew and loathed simply does not exist anymore. The Wicked Bitch was a child and then a pre-teen and then a teenager. An entirely different person, an adult who has spent the last 20 years growing and learning and living and maturing, now occupies the corporeal space that the Wicked Bitch used to occupy. This new person may be just as cruel as the Wicked Bitch was…but she may also be a wonderful person. A good person. A tolerant person. A person I would be happy to have as a friend...if only I could bear the contact.

I have changed. I took, and still do take, great pride in having transformed myself so thoroughly. It would be a devastating experience to find people relating to me as the person I was then. And other people change, too and other people are happy to keep the past in the past. I keep on telling myself this. "Grow up, Gila. That statute of limitations ran out years ago. Whether or not she has used it, she is entitled to her second chance, her fresh start. Even from you. And besides, you do not think it is just a little bit ridiculous to tell off a 39 year-old woman for shit she did when she was 12?"

Sometimes I talk back to myself. Because this is not fair. How could it possibly be right, and just, that she could do wrong and never pay for it? My arguments never go far. Mah la'asot? What are you going to do? In my heart and in my mind I know that life is not fair and justice is not always right. In this case silence is correct. I cannot say anything to the Wicked Bitch because she is no longer there to tell.

My pain is mine. There is no giving it away. Eventually I will learn to forget and I will learn to let it go. And eventually I will forget who and what I was, and everything I went through and everything I missed out on because of who and what I was not. Or, if I do not forget, at least I will let that go. The pain, the regrets, the "what if's" and the "if only's" will all be silenced.

In the meantime, the friend request sits, unanswered, in my inbox. I will continue to ignore it. Eventually, it too will disappear.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

On the Subject of Air Travel....

On Saturday night I was listening to Reshet Bet when the announcer broke in with a special report on a dramatic saga currently gripping the United States: that of the balloon boy. An Israeli living in the US had been drafted to provide the update. As of the time of his report, the balloon had recently landed. The boy was not inside. There were reports of a portion of the balloon disengaging and plummeting to the earth. Millions of Americans had watched the drama live and were praying for a miracle. The announcer solemnly thanked the guest reporter and added her own prayer for a positive resolution. And now, back to the music.

The song they chose to follow up the report? Fly Away Fly Away Fly Away. (Happy-clappy version from the 70's which does not appear to be on Youtube).

Gotta love Israeli radio. I changed the station. One, that was bad taste even for Israeli radio and two, I hate the song.

In other flight related news, I am coming to the States! I have a ticket and everything--November 13-28. Philly, Maryland and Florida...here I come!

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Sad Day for Afgani Women

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091009/ap_on_go_pr_wh/us_us_afghanistan

I simply cannot believe it. I read this article in something of a state of shock.

"The administration is prepared to accept some Taliban role in parts of Afghanistan, the official said. That could mean paving the way for Taliban members willing to renounce violence to participate in a central government — the kind of peace talks advocated by Afghan President Hamid Karzai to little receptiveness from the Taliban. It might even mean ceding some regions of the country to the Taliban."

In those regions of the country--a country far away, so no one has to care about it, really--what is going to happen to the women living there? Obama wants to work with 'moderates' in the Taliban. Moderates in what way? Where do the women stand?

Well, here. Or here, if you will.

Do I support a US war in Afganistan? Honestly, I do not follow US news enough to know at this point. But the thought of millions of women being tossed to the wolves as part of an exit strategy is both horrifying and heartbreaking. There is right and there is wrong...this cannot possibly be right.

Let's face it--apart from (often very brave) human-rights activists, pretty much no one gave a rats ass about the women under Taliban rule until 9-11. Not the Right and not the Left. The Afgani women suffered alone. But 9-11 did happen, and the word did get out and (I thought) people started to pay attention, and to care.

What sort of policy is this? Stay away from our buildings, and you can do whatever you want to your womenfolk?

Oh G-d, no. What sort of America is this? I will not give credit to Bush where it is not due--he also cared nothing about Afgani women, until 9-11. But all of you who voted for Obama in the hope that he would signal a more just America, a more caring America and a more peaceful America...will you be silent now? Is this peace? Is this caring? Is this justice?

Some things are worth fighting for.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

And the result of the summit? As follows: President Obama has exhorted us quarrelsome folks in the Middle East to finally sit down and make peace.

Wow. Now that was helpful. I feel better already. Because, of course everyone around here--the local crazy right wings, the local crazy left wings, the rock throwers, the suicide bombers, the rioters....yes EVERYONE--has been just sitting around and waiting for Obama's instructions. "How will President Obama instruct us? What great wisdom will he impart?"

And now he has issued instructions! Start negotiations! Yes indeed. Clearly, peace is now just around the corner.

(Is it just me, or does his great wisdom 'stop talking and get this moving' sound suspiciously like Bush's great wisdom on this particular topic?)

If you will excuse me, I am going to go bang my head on my keyboard for a little while. And stock up on canned goods and a few lead vests.

שנה טובה! Happy New Year!

Every fall, millions of Israelis stop what they are doing (aka "working") and spend several weeks watching and sending Shana Tova (Happy New Year) greetings to one another. This can sometimes be frustrating for those in the outside world. So as to encourage understanding, I thought I would post a small selection of my favorites.

First--a video that my co-worker has aptly described as "the best Shana Tova EVER".


Second--pleasantly demented. Do make sure to watch the credits.


Finally, an oldie but goodie.




If you are b'hul (outside of Israel) and trying to conduct business with people b'aretz (in Israel)...this is what we are doing instead of 1) responding to your emails 2) responding to your phone calls 3) taking care of your account 4) anything else vaguely business related. I am sure that you will have no choice but to agree that the above videos are a hell of a lot more interesting than whatever you had in mind.

And for those of you b'aretz, happy to have helped you blow another 15 minutes or so.

Monday, September 14, 2009

And a minor change

The time has come to retire the puppet. At least for now.

One last look....


The Hike, Part III. At last.



After a short bus trip, we arrive at our next destination: a crater in the Golan. The guide has given us an explanation but I only sort of hear it. We all file out of the bus and walk to the crater. Look! A big cliff! With trees! Which, as it turns out, we are not going to visit because we have more important things to do.

Coaching. The type of activity best done one-on-one and over a long period of time. Now available in a generic, mass-produced, quickie version.

G-d, I admit it. I am going hiking on Shabbat. But still…your response…it is not a tad severe? The bit with the underwear was not enough?

Apparently not, because the Life Coach does not magically disappear in a puff of smoke. Instead, he starts to talk. The problem with us, he explains, is that we want stuff that is not good for us. We are attracted to one type of person, even though, if were to try to live with that person, it would probably end with both of us single, one of us six feet under and the other doing 40-to-life in a maximum security prison. THIS is the problem. THIS is why we are single! How does he know this? One—because he is the all-knowing life coach. Two—because that is HIS problem. And if that is his problem, well, obviously, that is mine as well.

Clearly, the next stage is to solve the problem. How to do this? We are to break up into groups of four—two men and two women. Each of us is supposed to share with the other members of the group 1) what type we are attacted to and 2) why this is bad. Umm….okay. Twenty sets of four nice, reasonably attractive people sit down. And each person manages to convince the others—in the space of a half hour—that he or she is completely fucked up, and not worth dating.

For the life of me, I cannot figure out why anyone would feel that incorporating this type of activity into a singles event is even remotely appropriate. Meeting someone in this type of environment seems to me to be akin to meeting someone at your shrink’s office. Sure, everyone is fucked up, but do you really want to know just HOW fucked up before the first date? No! That is for date number four, at least.

Coaching has its place. Its place is not here.

*****

Marks for the day:

Hike: A
Life Coach: F
Value for money: C

Suggestion: Ditch the self-help drivel and replace it with something fun that will encourage us to get to know each other without being too painfully obvious that this is what you are trying to do. Think-another hike, a visit to a druze village with tea and coffee or a breaking us up to do arts and crafts with random items we find on the ground.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

At Stitch n' Bitch last night Safranit was discussing a project she had worked on. She received a skein of this fancy, organic, 100% wool yarn that is not sold in Israel. She made a sock, but only had enough yarn for ONE sock. And not even a particularly large sock. Unlike Christianity, which conveniently works the one sock motif into Christmas, we Jews do not have any occassions for which a single sock is called for. So, like, what was she to do?


Member A--Pull it out and make a headband.


Member B--No, you cannot use that yarn for a headband. It is too scratchy. It has plant stuff in it.


????? Plant life? In wool? Must be my hearing--that cannot be right. I must inquire. I turn to my neighbor, Erica.


Me--What was that about the wool?


Erica--It is organic, 100% wool. So sometimes it has little sticks in it. From when the sheep get branches and such caught in their wool.


Me--Is this like kosher chickens in the States where they leave a shitload of feathers on the birds as proof that the bird is kosher? Just here, they are leaving plant material? This is no yuppie, gentrified, processed wool! No! That is for sissies! This is REAL, honest, organic wool! With genuine sticks in it!


Erica--Exactly.


So, if you would like to be one with the sheep, there is a wool out there for you.

The Hike, Part II of III. Because there is only so much even I can drag this out.

For Part I, see here.

10:15 AM Still on the bus. A part of today’s activities are being run by a life coach. Why a life coach as opposed to, say, a tour guide? Because this is a singles event! And if we are single, it means we are fucked up and in need of fixing. A tour guide is just not qualified to take this on. To translate this into terms the more observant among you will understand, if this were a religious event, we would have a rabbi (bonus points if he is also a shrink), a pious matron and/or a shadchan (matchmaker). And they would give speeches on how you are single because you are showing too many fleshy bits or lack emunah (faith) or bad midot (character traits), which includes being too picky. Also, if this were a religious event, it would not be happening on Shabbat. And if it were a hard-core observant religious event, it would be single sex--either all men or all women. Which raises ALL sorts of interesting questions. But never mind that--religious or secular—a good singles event requires that there are qualified people on hand to give a speech explaining to you why you, personally, are single. Even though they do not know you, personally.

And to think that people are distressed about the religious-secular divide. If this does not show unity of belief, I do not know what does.

What does the Life Coach think is wrong with us? Time will tell….

10:20 One by one, people are being called to the front of the bus to introduce themselves. They are then asked to select a tarot card and say what it means to them. The Life Coach then gives his own interpretation. “This means that you are X and you have to do/ stop doing XYZ”. The problem is that not only is the microphone terrible, but the Life Coach is speaking right into it, so that everything he says and most of what the other people are saying sounds rather like the grown-ups in Peanuts cartoon specials. Really not getting too much out of this particular exercise.


It should be emphasized that the tarot card bit would not happen at a religious singles event. Tarot is SO avodah zarah (witchcraft). No, the rabbi would just LOOK at you and tell you how and why you are fucked up, in his professional opinion. I suppose, in certain circles, he could have you randomly pick a page from a book of letters written by this or that rabbi, with the letter you chose magically miraculously containing the answer to why you are single.

10:30 Ooooo ooooo oooo!!!! They called me! They called me! Well, no. I actually went up to the front of the bus and suggested to the Life Coach that he leave a bit of space between his mouth and the microphone so that things would be a bit less garbled. And since I was there anyway, he called on me. I introduce myself as Gila Weiss, accountant and blogger. See? I am interesting! And I am from Jerusalem. And I have a hearing loss, so if I ask you to repeat yourself twelve times, please be patient. And and and….well, nothing else. Smile.

My tarot card has a rich guy holding a set of scales giving money to one beggar and ignoring another. My interpretation is, admittedly, weak. Ummm…there are scales. And I am a Libra. And there is money. And I am an accountant. Life Coach interpretation: you have and live by a strong sense of justice and think you are always right. But sometimes being right is not an advantage.

Well then. Glad to have that all cleared up. I expect to be married by next Tuesday. No. Living in sin. Marriage involves planning a wedding--which is something I have absolutely no desire to do. And I simply have no time to go to Cyprus this week.

10:45 Hearing aid+ hearing loss + bus full of people=exercise in futility.

Note to self—going forward, singles events that include significant bus time may need to be in the same category as are singles events at bars and loud parties.

11:15 Tour guide tells us about where we are going. I do not hear her. No matter, I will see it soon enough.

11:30 We are Here! Okay. Time to divide my stuff between under the bus and on the bus. Pack my bag. No. Unpack it. Pack it again. Nononono! Unpack it. Pack it again. Fuck it. EVERYTHING under the bus.

11:45 Everyone into the water! Now that we are all out in the open, I am happy to see that my outfit is no weirder than anyone else’s. Because I am, of course, checking out the competition’s clothes. Because that is what one DOES. Wait—should I have worn a bathing suit? No, no….shorts are fine. Thank G-d.

12:00 They have organized us into a circle. There is much splashing going on. Life Coach wants to hold his activity here but...no...tour guide appears to have shot that down. There are many other people here. Normal, married people. And small children. We do not want to frighten them. This might not be the best place. Later on….

12:30 This hike rocks! Cool water, climbing over rocks and a sunny day. Not only is the hike fun in and of itself, but it is also an inspired choice for a singles event. Nothing encourages interaction quite like trying to scramble uphill in running water without falling and bashing your head in on some of the picturesque rocks below. Lots of chatting, encouragement and helping hands. Gal gets full points for this part of the day.

13:15 Am at top of the waterfall, chilling. Oh! Right next to me is the good-looking guy I was eyeing on the bus. Hmmm…how about I try to start up a conversation.

13:16 Shot down. Immediately.

13:17 Yeah. Well. I bet he is terrible in bed.

Not sour grapes. Just an honest, unbiased observation here.

14:00 Back at the bus now. The water hike was loads of fun. Am now changing into my gentle walk hike outfit and have discovered (to my horror) that my extra pair of underwear ended up in my “I do not need this for the hike” bag. Which is in my car. I have no choice but to put my new shorts over drenched underwear. Kind of a faux-explorer-with-an-incontinence-problem look.

G-d has a sense of humor. Who knew?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Hike, Part I of a indeterminate number

FRIDAY

Today, I spent two hours at the mall searching for functional yet attractive hiking gear. Several hundred shekels later, I am sorted. I then proceed home, where my next task is to design my outfit. Which t-shirt to pair with the shorts for the water hike? Maybe my shirt from the Alyn bike ride? So people will think I am sporty? Oh…but that shirt is so baggy! Not flattering at all! No, no. It has to be closer fitting…. Perhaps I should go sleeveless? No—am sure to get burned to a crisp if I do. And besides, my upper arms are still on the flabby side. And what hat? Or perhaps I should wear one of my sports bandanas?

I finally come up with two outfits, one for the water hike and one for the gentle walk hike. For the water hike I am going to wear knit, bermuda-length red shorts, a close-fitting, cut up t-shirt from Croatia and a sports bandanna. For the gentle walk hike, I am going to wear tan, long shorts (? is that the technical term here) from Golf, paired with a fitted blue t-shirt and a straw hat from Eddie Bauer. Kind of a faux-explorer type look, you know?

Am I the only one who ended up spending THREE HOURS sorting out outfits for a one-day hike? With people I do not even fucking know? Please tell me that I am not.

At least I did not bring makeup.

SATURDAY

07:15 AM Just realized that even though I brought my MP3 player and the USB charger and the thingy so I could use the USB charger with a normal outlet (which does not seem to work, but brought, just in case it MIGHT work) AND I even charged the MP3 player off of Ellie’s computer, yesterday…I did not bring the headphones. Not a good sign, this.

7:40 AM I have dumped my extra stuff in my car and am walking to the pick-up point. I planned on buying coffee en route but…WTF? Café Café is not open yet? Café Henrietta is not open yet? Café Hillel went kosher and is closed for Shabbat??? Hello!!! Tel Aviv! עיר ללא הפסקה (a city that never stops) my ass. If you guys want to compare yourself to Manhattan, or even DC—first things first—coffee houses open at six. If not earlier. EVERY day.

This tiyul had better include coffee breaks, or I am going to die.

8:00 AM Found the bus. Getting on feels rather like the first day at a new school. But worse. Everyone was giving me the once over. The women appear to be particularly hostile. This is a serious business, I see.

But good news! I am not the grandma! I am also not the fattest.

08:15 AM Gal, the trip organizer, is making announcements. There will be a coffee stop. Thank G-d.

Decision. If anyone asks why I am writing, I will introduce myself as a blogger.

And then everyone will think I am cool.

08:25 AM Break out the book? Hmmm…what would friends say? Right. Book stays in bag.

08:40 AM Every few minutes, we hit another collection point. The bus is slowly but surely filling up. Have had one conversation. Erez, a friendly guy from Petach Tikvah.

08:45 AM Just passed a wall with coffee cups painted on it. G-d is taunting me. Bastard.

09:15 AM Another woman, Liya, has joined my and Erez’s conversation. We are discussing internet dating.

EDUCATIONAL MOMENT

Courtesy of Liya


האם את ספונטנית? Are you spontaneous?

I always thought that this question—which I get now and again from guys off of dating websites—is a sign of laziness. A sign of a guy who cannot pull himself together and cannot manage a schedule enough to manage calling one up in advance and setting a proper date. Asking ‘are you spontaneous’ is his way of finding out whether or not you are the type that is accommodating of such character traits. Which I am not. At all.

Liya set me straight.

Liya: No, no—‘are you spontaneous’ has nothing to do with spontaneity. What it means is ‘do you want to meet for sex right now?’

Me: But… I thought ‘do you want a cup of coffee’ means ‘do you want to meet for sex right now’.

Liya: It does. But so does ‘are you spontaneous’.

Erez confirms Liya’s translation. Wow. Who knew? Well, apparently, Liya. And most likely everyone else on the planet but me. No wonder I get so little action.

09:45 AM Stopped at ArcCafé. One humongous coffee and a Roxie-friendly salad later, and I am ready to roll. At Liya’s suggestion, I also buy a sandwich. Because while I remembered to bring: water, sunscreen, a hat, water shoes, a change of clothes, my MP3 player, a notebook, a pen, an extra pen in case the first dies, another extra pen in case the first two die, Sarah’s camera, a book, extra glasses in case something happens to the pair I am wearing and earplugs…I forgot to bring lunch.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I know I have to write about the hike. And I am going to write about the hike. But right now, I am cleaning, see? My house is vile. Because I was not here this weekend, and did not clean it. And because I did not clean it last weekend either, even though I was here. Because I was busy varnishing my table. And because I loathe cleaning. As does, apparently, the Urge. But today, Shimon the Kablan came today to take out the radiators which eat up so much wall space and he and his crew of four saw my dirty, dirty house. How embarrassing! And Tuesday, they are coming back, to spackle and plaster the bits now radiator-free wall and paint over them. It must be clean! Because G-d forbid that Shimon and his crew, who I have never met and am not likely to meet again, think I am a poor housekeeper.

So I am cleaning. Mind you, I do not have time to clean everything. Because I keep on stopping to surf the net. Which eats up much time. So, I am cleaning the bits he and his crew are likely to see. The shower? Not so likely. The bathroom sink? Men never notice such things. That can stay all gross for another day or two. The floor, the kitchen counter and the coffee table, however, are just OUT there. So they have been cleaned.

Incidentally, these are also the bits of house that will require cleaning, after the work on my walls is done.

Sometimes, I am not so smart.

Friday, August 21, 2009

אני פשוט בהלם

You know it is bad when even your closest friends refuse to listen to you whine. It used to be just my life-coach* who would brush off my moans about my non-existent love life with a "that is because you are not doing anything about it". Now even my closest friends have gotten into it and brush off my complaints with a "I do not want to hear it". I am seen as One Who Has Brought This on Herself. As One Who Refuses to Even Try.

There is, admittedly, some truth to this.

I hate blind dating.
I hate singles events, and in particular those in Jerusalem.
I hate loud parties.
I hate bars.
I have given up on the dating websites.
My idea of expanding myself socially consists of stuff like joining Safranit's Stitch n' Bitch group.

So, yes, my friends have a point. I admit it. I know I should do more. Fine, I do not sell well on the dating websites and I do not like bars and parties or other loud events, but there are activities I do enjoy that would provide me with ample opportunities to meet new people, including those of the single male variety. I can go on Mosaic or SPNI hikes. I could sign up for Groopy bike rides. I could take swing dancing lessons in Tel Aviv. I could take a cooking course. Do these activities not sound like lots of fun? Indeed, they do! Even Roxie approves--though not so much of the cooking course. And I really and truly have been meaning to do all of these things, but somehow I just don't.

So, no. I am not trying.

But it is not really my fault, you see. All of these activities....they all require work, yes? Work and effort. For instance, I may have to get up early. And prepare stuff. And put the stuff in my knapsack. And drive somewhere. Perhaps even with my bike loaded on my car. (That alone takes AT LEAST fifteen minutes). And get to where I am going on time. And some of these events take a whole day. Or even a whole weekend! During which I cannot do the other things that I mean to do, but probably will not do.

Really...it is all just so....exhausting. Even thinking about it tires me.

Whatever. In short, all of these activities, require me to get the fuck out of my living room. Which is, thanks to my squishy couches and my blue accent table, even more attractive a place to be. In fact and in appearance, man!**

Recently, I determined I had to make a change. As you might imagine, one of my more outspoken friends was involved in the decision-making process. No matter. I resolved that I was going to sign up for an event. And, barring death or serious illness, I was not going to cancel. I was going to go on that event. The only question was what.

Look4Love is one of the dating websites I am registered with. The site regularly puts together events for members. Every so often, I receive an email from Gal, the site owner, describing upcoming events. Unlike Jdate events, which tend to sound vile AND be hideously pricey (a'la: You too can come spend a week trapped on a cruise ship with 100's of other desperate singles!), these events sound like...fun. Yes, there are the standard hideous parties, but there are also normal, Israeli-style hikes. And pool parties. And cool shit like that. And reasonable prices.

Anyway, shortly after I (or rather, my friend) decreed that my slug period was going to end on or before August 20, 2009, I received yet another email from Gal, advertising three events. "זה משמיים!" I thought to myself. This is a sign from G-d. "Yahala--sign up". And after a false start in which I registered for an event which was scheduled to take place the same night as my couch-warming party, I am signed up for a hike. For tomorrow. And what is more, this afternoon I am going to Tel Aviv. I will stay with Ellie-oise. I will be away from my house and my couches a full 36 hours.

This is enormous. My friends are impressed. Gila is actually doing something!

And I am not cancelling. Even though I want to. All week, I have wanted to. This is why.

1) I do not know anyone on the hike. I would ask a friend to go, but the hike is on Shabbat and most of my friends are shomrei Shabbat...so that is not going to happen. ***

2) I will be with this group ALL DAY.

3) What if they do not like me?

4) What if I do not like them?

5) What if I am the oldest woman on the hike? And all of the other women are years younger and a zillion times better looking?

6) It involves my spending most of my weekend away from home. And not doing the various things I should be doing. Which, admittedly, I might not have done even if I were here. But it is the principle that counts.

7) It is just SO much easier to do nothing.

I. Am. Not. Canceling.

Yesterday was awful. I spent a good chunk of the day with my belly in a knot. "Nu, די כבר," my belly told me. Enough already. "You know you do not want to do this. How can it possibly be good for you to do something you do not want to do?" I had to admit that my belly was making a lot of sense. Why not bail on the hike? And then I could go to a local Katamon Konnections kiddush. Or rather, I could plan on going and then not go. Because I loathe singles events, and in particular Jerusalem ones. No matter--cancelling would open up such a range of possibilities.

I decided to call Kayla to discuss this.

Kayla: It will be fun!

Me: But I do not know anyone.

Kayla: You will meet them. Besides, that is the great thing about hiking. You do not have to talk all the time.

Me: But it is ALL DAY.

Kayla: So?

Me: And what if it is terrible?

Kayla: So you write about it on your blog.

Me: (general whiney sounds)

Kayla: Listen, you will have your MP3 player with you. You can listen to that. You will be fine.

Me: (in a small voice) And...and I am bringing a notebook and a pen with me. So I can write, if it is really awful. And Sarah is lending me her digital camera. So I can take pictures.

Kayla: There, you see? It will be fine. And I guarantee you--on the way back, everyone will be sleeping.

Me: But my stomach hurts!

Kayla: That is because you are getting out of your comfort zone. This is good for you. You have to do this.

Me: oooooohhhhkkkkkaaay.....

Okay. I am doing this.



* Highly recommended! I was in a professional/personal rut a few years ago and she really helped me get out of it.

**Accountants--get it???? Fact and appearance??? HILARIOUS! I kill myself, really I do.

***Can a hike scheduled for Shabbat really be considered to be m'shamayim? Discuss.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

An Urge

Last Saturday, I got an urge.

Do allow me to explain. As is my wont, this will take a bit of time. First, background. Three weeks ago, at long last, I bought couches. And not just any couches. Expensive, squishy leather couches. In a lovely shade of …ochre? Whatever—a really nice, warm brown with a bit of orange in it. So they were delivered to my apartment and I played musical furniture—turned my TV stand into a coffee table and my night table into a TV stand (which is what it used to be before it was a night table) and my ratty plastic shelves into a night table (which is what they used to be before they were my coffee table). And voila! I was set— couches and tables and stands in all the right places.

But then…disaster struck. The coffee table? It is not so nice. It is from Ikea. It is unfinished pine wood. It just…well…you know…it just does not go with my luxurious squishy couches. It is …oh…what word am I looking for? Ugly? So then I thought to myself "Remember that gorgeous blue set of drawers at Mia the Ima's? Why don't you paint your table blue? Then it will be an accent piece. Think how nice and stylish that would be! People will come and comment on your gorgeous table and wherever did you get it you will be able to say 'oh, that? Picked it up at Ikea and painted it'. Like, instead of being a boring accountant you will be this sophisticated, cool type that buys furniture and then refinishes it and shit. And who has an accent piece in her living room."

I liked this idea so much that I immediately called my friends to tell them about it. Sadly, I am famous for starting projects and never finishing them or meaning to start projects and never starting them. There are the two half-done baby blankets that I started when friend's babies were born, three years ago. There are the lovely blue wine bottles that have been sitting on my counter for the last six months, waiting for me to remove the labels and turn them into water bottles. There are the various beads and nylon thread that I have carting around with me for the last 20 years, for when I learn to make beaded jewelry. Best of all, there is the beautiful painting of a hamsa that I started eight years ago, when I made aliyah, and still have not finished. When I was injured, this painting of mine was a point of some melodrama. Would I ever see well enough to finish it? Once my vision was back, I thought about finishing the painting and then donating rights to the picture to Hadassah. They could sell prints, to raise money for the wonderful hospital that saved my eyesight. Seven years later, vision is fine, painting is still not finished. I am so pathetic.

So anyway, I am telling everyone about my plan to paint my table and everyone knew KNEW that this table was never going to be painted blue. Even I knew that this table was never going to be painted blue. I would plan on painting it blue. The table would plan on becoming blue. But it would never actually be blue.

Except, now it is blue.

Two weeks ago, I went to the friendly neighborhood paint store. I was completely overwhelmed, and left. A few days later, I went back to the store. "This time" I told myself "you are not leaving without paint". I chose my color—a tasteful, muted blue-breen. I bought a paintbrush. I bought sandpaper. I brought everything home. Everything was in place for me to put the supplies aside and intend to get around to painting for a couple years. I was content. Life was good.

But then, two days later, as I said, I got this urge. "Go paint the table" Urge ordered. Like a zombie, I pulled out the table and the paint. Urge screamed at me "No! Imbecile! Do it כמו שצריך! Properly! Sand it first!" So I dragged the whole thing outside. And I sanded it. And then I dragged it back in and painted it. And then I dragged it back outside and sanded it again. And dragged it back it and painted it again. And at the end of the day, I had a blue table. Of course, the tasteful, muted blue-green turned out to be a not-so-tasteful, extremely loud shade of turquoise. But no matter—the table was blue. I was happy. Table was happy. Urge had also forced me to finally took time to go through and get rid of nearly all of my cassettes as sophisticates with accent pieces do not have several hundred cassettes lying around their living rooms). So now my friends were happy too. They do so like to see me enter the twenty-first century.

Urge, however, was not yet happy. Yesterday, I had to go back and buy varnish and last night—yes, the same day— I started applying coats of varnish, a task I continued today. I even called my boss to ask if it would be okay if I give him a report a day late so I would not have to work on Saturday. So I would have time to varnish and sand and varnish some more. And clean my squishy couches. And dust. And finish a crocheting project (not the blankets—a shawl. But still!) And cook lots of Roxie-friendly nutritious food. And turn those goddamned bottles into water bottles.

As of this writing, so far as I know, until Urge informs me otherwise, the table is done. I got lucky—the varnish which was supposed to be 'clear' in reality was a 'light yellow-brown'. I applied it anyway—and it knocked a few shades of the turquoise. Now that the table is squared away, I am curious to see how Urge feels about the 12 skeins of yarn I bought from Livya yarns so I can make a nice, fluffy afgan for my squishy couch. Right now, they are resting peacefully in my yarn basket. Will they stay there? Or will Urge rear its taskmaster head again? Time will tell.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Very Special Treat for Members of the IACPA

Shortly after my phone call to the Lishkat Roai Heshbon, I received an invitation to a seminar on a finance-related subject. The subject was interesting and relevant. Even more important, the seminar would give me four hours of CPE! For free! And lunch! Not an opportunity to be missed, this. I signed right up.

Theoretically, this seminar could also serve as a good time to network. However my response to large crowds of people I do not know is to wander around aimlessly, preferably with a cup of coffee in hand, trying to look as though, really, I am enjoying myself immensely when in fact I am desperately awaiting for whatever it is to be over. As much as I might like to pretend to myself that in attending this seminar I would be developing valuable professional connections, in my heart of hearts, I knew that that networking was just not going to happen. I would have to be satisfied with the CPE and lunch.

Indeed, apart from the aforementioned networking component, I enjoyed the seminar. The presentations were interesting. The subject matter was useful. The food (shockingly) was good. (Roxie was not too happy about this). They even had real coffee*, to make my "networking" meanderings more pleasant. And, best of all, for my entertainment, they had photographers.

LOTS of photographers. Photographing us oh-so-stylin' accountants and lawyers. Demographics=mostly men, lots of nebbishy looking ones and fair percentage of middle-aged. As is my wont, I sat in the front row, immediately in front of the podium. Even with my hearing aid, these types of events can be a challenge. I like to maximize my chances of actually hearing what is going on. Unfortunately, every few minutes, my view would be blocked by some intrepid photographer dashing in to grab a shot of the speaker as he made a particularly impressive point or a joke. The last portion of the seminar was a roundtable made up of a lawyer, a finance guy and about five hi-tech guys (looked about the same as us accountants, if you catch my drift). The effect on the photographers was not unlike hot oil on popcorn kernels. Photographers were bouncing up and down all around the podium. Look! That one is speaking-grab that shot! And he is smiling and looking interested. And…oh—GREAT pensive look—hold it baby, yes-BEAUTIFUL!

Bet THAT is a good photo spread. Wow. The readers of Lishkat newsletter are going to get a great read this month.

Seriously—why? Why? That is all I want to know.

*For those overseas, the standard at these events is instant coffee. Generally one finds the Nescafe powder (vile) but sometimes, if it is a higher end sort of place, the Elite Red Mug freeze dried stuff (also vile, but not quite as much). The same is true of most workplaces, though the more magnanimous employers will splurge on Tasters Choice. Me—I keep a French press and a supply of ground coffee at the office. My klitah (absorption into Israeli society) only goes so far, you know?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Verbal Typos*

The Scene:
A large, well-appointed Shabbat dinner at the home of an observant Jewish couple in Jerusalem. Sixteen people are seated around a table, eating. Apart from one person who is speaking, the room is quiet.

The Characters:
Host, a respected author who writes about religious topics and who is a regular lecturer at Aish Hatorah.

Hostess, an equally respected journalist and activist.

Guests which include: a local builder; a US biochemist in Israel on vacation; a US Jewish educator in Israel on a study fellowship; the rabbi of a large and prestigious US congregation and his wife (also an educator); the executive director of the Hadassah Organization's office in Israel; the Host and Hostesses' ultra-orthodox daughter and her husband and an Modern Orthodox couple with their three young, impressionable children.

Me.

We can all see the disaster coming, no?

Before I even tell you what happened, I must say that, honestly, up until this point, I was on my best, most charming behavior. I was pleasant. I made polite conversation. I asked people about themselves. One of the guests was not only single, but he was seated next to me and I did not torment him at all. ** I asked the man about his hobbies. I realize that those of you who either know me or are frequent readers of this blog may not believe me, but honestly--I did not deserve this.

Right, so now what happened.

Hostess asked us to introduce ourselves to the table. It was my turn. So there I was, you know, speaking in a charming manner and telling a charming anecdote... about the bombing. (Said bombing not brought up by me, just so you know). Anyway, I got to a point where I had to describe my behavior at a certain point in time. With a big smile, a dramatic eye-roll and my usual "I-am-hard-of-hearing-and-assume-you-are-too" volume I announced:

"I was being a complete twat!"

Faces morph from pleasant smiles into frozen stunned expressions. Stunned with a touch of horror. I realize what I said. And in front of whom I said it. FUCK!

"Twit! I meant twit!"

Nervous laughter. Further down the table, the Executive Director repeated my explanation to the Rabbi. "She meant to say 'twit'".

Not one of my better moments. ..

Why why WHY do these things happen to me?


*Many thanks to the aformentioned Jewish educator in Israel on fellowship for coining this phrase.

**Galia is going to be very bitter when she hears about this. I am NEVER so nice to her guests.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Will You Marry Me? No? Fuck. Have to Go Shopping Then.

For some time now—in fact, ever since I moved into my apartment in December—I have been trying to buy a couch. Despite the fact that I have a good job and despite the fact that I have money that I put aside to buy furniture and despite the fact that I live spitting distance from approximately five trillion furniture stores, I have not yet managed to do so.

This is not my fault. This is my stupid brain's fault.

I mean, I have tried to deal with the situation. I have tried to go shopping. The problem is that the moment I enter the furniture store, my brain starts to go apeshit. "Oy gevalt! Gila, these prices are so high! You can get a perfectly good couch second-hand. Look at Sarah's couches! Gorgeous! And she only paid NIS 2000! And you are going to pay NIS 6000 for a new couch? Are you insane? You think money grows on trees?"

My brain is right. Of course I should be buying second hand! So I leave the store and go home and log onto Yad Stayim or Janglo and do a search for couches and come up with a bazillion listings. At which point I am immediately freaked out by the very prospect of having to call all these people up and make appointments to see all of their couches and then drive all over Jerusalem checking out all their couches and then having to decide what couch to buy and then having to arrange for a mover to transport the couch and coordinate with the buyer to pick it up. And so on and so forth So then I tell myself "Gila, what do you need a couch for? You have Kayla's old chair and your rocking chair. Both are comfortable. You are one person. How many comfortable places to sit does one person need? This is an awful lot of work. Do you really want to do this much work? Do you have time to do this much work? Is this really that urgent? Can this wait a week or two?" And, of course, the answers to the last four questions are: no, no, no and hell yes. So I log off and tell myself that I will start to look next week. If I have time.

This has been going on for eight months now. And while I continue to be fine with my current seating arrangements (one person can do quite well with two comfortable places to sit) my friends—who have been waiting for eight months now for me to finally pull myself together enough to buy a fucking couch—are starting to complain. While they might not agree on an exact number for "how many comfortable places to sit does one person need", it would appear that the number is more than two.

But there is still the problem of my brain's aversion to fiscal irresponsibility and my own aversion to work. Acquiring a couch while keeping everyone happy is not easy task (as evidenced by the fact that I have not managed to do so yet). I have tried to be creative. At first, I planned to buy Katrina "Exercise Nazi" Yellow's couch when she went back to South Africa in October. Good couch, cheaper than new, no shopping AND knowing that I was helping out a friend. Yes, I would have to wait some months for it, but really, what a small price to pay. But then she decided to take her couch back with her to South Africa. So that idea is down. Then another friend asked me if I would be willing to baby-sit a futon couch for a few months. Granted, not a long-term solution, but an excellent delaying tactic. Kayla nixed that idea. "We are grown-ups now, remember? We do real couches. Not futons. Go shopping already!" I did not clarify the matter with her (because I was not sure I wanted to hear her response), but I am pretty sure that WE especially do not do couches which are currently being stored in the foyer of said friend's apartment building, because he does not have room in his apartment.

Finally, this Friday, I had a brilliant idea. I was visiting a friend who not only owns an entire set of couches—but also an apartment. "If I marry him", I thought, "then not only do not have to go shopping for a couch, but I do not have to go shopping for an apartment." On the down side, his couches are not really squishy enough for my taste. But then, marriage is all about compromise, no? And even thinking about the whole apartment buying and apartment renovation process is enough to send me straight into panic attack mode. Like the couch-buying process, just a thousand times worse. Would not the non-squishy couch would be a small price to pay for avoiding that particular little corner of Dante's hell? So I proposed, and he said "no" and I am back at square one again.

You know how they say that you miss your family in times of crisis? Completely true! It is times like this—my time of crisis— that I wish my hyper-organized, perfect sister lived close by. Unlike me, predictably, my sister has the whole home-ownership and home-furnishing routine down pat. If she were here, I would just hand her some money and she would do the Research Couches thing and the Visiting Couch Stores and Used Couches thing and the Making a Sensible Decision Based on the Data thing and the Purchase thing and Transport of Couch thing. And before you know it, there would be a couch in my apartment! And it would be tasteful! And in good condition! Because my sister does not do tacky crap. It would be like magic!

Umm…Mer? Wanna visit?

Monday, June 29, 2009

But if the Accountants Were Nude, on the Other Hand...

Nearly five years ago, when I first received my Israeli CPA (certification as an accountant), I also applied for, and received, membership in the Lishkat Roai Heshbon, a professional society for accountants. I did this because: 1) they offered continuing education seminars and 2) I was just so over the moon at having survived the process of becoming an Israeli CPA that of course I had to have the matching professional society membership. After two years, during which time 1) I did not attend a single seminar and 2) I got over myself, I let my membership lapse.

Or at least, I thought I let it lapse.

In the States, non-payment of any given organization’s annual dues will result in an end to one’s financial obligations to said organization. Yes, you will be subject to a a never-ending stream of letters trying to convince you that your life will be so much better if you would just come back to the fold but that is it, really. Here, as it turns out, the matter is not so simple. The Lishkat continued to bill me for two more years, and when I did not pay, they (finally) revoked my membership. But –and here is the rub—the 2006 and 2007 annual dues are still out there, lurking.

Anyway, up until about a year ago I was working for a Big Accounting Firm that provided me with loads and loads of continuing professional education. Now that I am working for a company, I have to arrange my own continuing professional education. Recently, I got it into my mind that “gosh, if I were to join the Lishkat Roai Heshbon again, I could go to their seminars. And conferences. And that would be my continuing education! Plus, I could network with other accountants! How fun!” This was such an exciting prospect that I immediately called the Lishkat to find out how I could re-activate my membership. I was referred to Nir, a very nice man who handles membership services.

Me: So, I was told I would have to pay all the prior year annual dues in order to renew my membership.

Nir: Yes, that is correct. You have annual dues for 2006 and 2007 outstanding.

Me: But I did not do anything with the Lishkat during that time.

Nir: Those are the rules. If you want to cancel your membership, you have to write in and cancel it—it is not automatic.

Me: Well, is there any other option? Can I just pay a non-member rate for seminars and materials?

Nir: No, the seminars, conferences and materials are for members only. Oh--wait, actually, there is another option.

Me: What is that?

Nir: We have a non-membership option. The annual fee is 500 a year and you receive the monthly accounting newsletter.

Me: (Interested, but wary) Ummm…is this a newsletter about accountancy or about accountants? Like, does it have articles about tax laws and accounting pronouncements and that sort of stuff or articles about accountants?

Nir: About accountants.

Me: (Am so appalled that I am speechless. For a few seconds).

Me: Nir, out of curiosity, are you an accountant?

Nir: No.

Me: Tell me, honestly….would you want to read a magazine about accountants? With articles about accountants? And photos of accountants? Accountants giving lectures…. Accountants shooting the shit with other accountants…. Accountants thinking deep thoughts. Accountants standing in groups and smiling.

Nir: (trying hard not to laugh because he really is very nice and very professional).

Me: We are boring! We are anal-retentive! We are dorks! We dress badly! I mean, I would know--I am one.

Nir: (Has given up the battle and is laughing his head off).

Me: Who in the name of God would want to read about accountants? Okay, the guys who actually appear in the magazine, maybe. But anyone else? Honestly, I think this is one of the levels of Dante’s Hell—a magazine all about accountants.

Nir: I see your point.

Me: Yes, well, thanks anyway!

Nir: No problem!

No seminars for me, it would seem. sigh....

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ein Bissel Torah (A Little Torah)

Shabbat lunch last week. Host is telling a joke based on the halacha of kiddushin (betrothal)–or how a man acquires a woman to be his wife. Joke goes over my head. Hostess kindly provides background.

Hostess: There are three ways the man can acquire a wife. The first way is pay for her—to give her money. Today we give a ring. The second way is to sign a contract—that is the ketubah.

Me: Okay…. (So far this is all familiar).

Hostess: The third way is to have sex with her.

Me: You break it, you buy it?

Hostess: Exactly.

Now, if I understood Hostess correctly, if a Jewish man has sex with a Jewish woman, he has bought her. They are married. Maybe it is just me, but that is a bit worrying. What happens when our friendly neighborhood Jewish Taliban picks up on this, and starts to demand strict application of this particular bit of halacha? At least in my neighborhood, to do so would mean that the number of children deemed mamzerim would increase exponentially. Because while there certainly are people who do not have sex before marriage (the official kind of marriage), there are also quite a few who have engaged in payment-option number three long before they ever made it to the chuppah. And with people other than their eventual chuppah partner.

On the other hand, one does have to admit that a strict application would do wonders for solving the singles crisis in the Jewish community.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hello? Are you a Bookkeeper?

Are you a bookkeeper? Yes? Good. This is for you. You know when you call me up? Because according to your books we owe you money? Or at least you think we owe you money? Because the last two times you called, it turned out we did not owe you money--you had not properly applied the payment? And according to our books, we do not owe you any money? But anyway, this time, you are pretty sure we owe you money?

You recognize the situation, yes?

Anyway.... when said situation occurs, I beg of you, I PLEAD of you....make sure you have the relevant invoice numbers ready BEFORE YOU CALL. Because I can assure you that, no matter how annoying you are and no matter how many times you call (and I realize that this may come as a surprise), I am not going to say Walla! We owe you money! and write you a check on the basis of some vague story about how you think we owe you money. Or even on the basis that this will make you go away. As tempting as that option may be at times.

And especially not, given your track record with misapplied payments.

And no, I am not going to spend half an hour sitting on the phone while you start going through your general ledger, mumbling to yourself, and trying to figure out what invoice is unpaid, as per your (crap) records. I will ask you to call me back, once you have a clue.

I thank you in advance for your consideration. Even though I know that, at some point, probably in the next half hour, you will call me AGAIN. And you still will not have any invoice numbers.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Modest Vignette

Kat The Exercise Nazi and I got together tonight for our Torture Training* session. Each session includes a strength training workout and a cardio workout. The strength training bit is not too bad but the cardio portion is positively vile. The cardio workout looks something like this:

1) Walk five minutes (I actually like this part)

2) Run really, really fast for one minute

3) Die for two minutes.

4) Run really, really fast for one minute

4) Die for two minutes.

And more of the same, until the program decides it is done toying with you and allows you to stagger home.

Anyway, so Kat and I were in the middle of one of the dying bits when the buzzer on her stopwatch went off, indicating it was time to start running really, really fast. Instead of resetting her watch and running, Kat continued walking. Downhill.

Me: Ummm....isn't it time to run?

Kat: We are going to walk to the bus stop and start running from there.

Me: But the bus stop is further down the hill.

Kat: Yes.

Me: Which means we will have to run up the hill.

Kat: Yes! Last time, by the time we finished running the road had flattened out.

Me: And...there is something wrong with that?

Kat: Excuse me, Ms. Snackcident? How many rugellach ** did you end up eating the other day? Yes there is something wrong with that. Uphill!

Me: whinewhinewhine.

Kat: Stop whining. Think of Elmer.

Me: whinewhinewhine.

Kat: If you don't stop whining, I am going to scream "Think of Elmer's ass" really loud. (It should be noted that she did not say "Elmer". She said Elmer's name.)

Now that is a dirty trick. But I still stopped whining.

Note to self: must find exercise nazi who does not read blogs.

*The program is actually called "turbulence training". But I was speaking with my friend, Pnina, and she accidentally replaced the 'turbulence' with 'torture'. Somehow, inexplicably, the name stuck.

** I fought the rugellach. The rugellach won.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Zeh LO Bishvilech!

First, a Hebrew lesson.

Phrase number one: גם זה לטוב pr. gam zeh l'tov. "This is also for the good". This is the phrase used by an excessively happy-clappy person to describe the bad shit that happens to someone else. Everything, EVERYTHING is a gift from G-d. Oh, your cat just peed all over your chocolate supply? And your child is on drugs? And you are up five kilo? Gam zeh le tov!

Phrase number two: זה לא בשבילך pr. zeh lo bishvilech. "This is not for you". My diet group leader's mantra. This mantra applies to any food product which you like and which you might believe should be for you, but which contains more calories per square inch than the number of coffee shops per Tel Aviv square mile (rough estimate = a lot). So really, this food is not for you.

You will nee the above phrases for this post.

On Friday, I went to the shuk. I had invited myself over to Practical Yael's house for dinner and she asked me to bring rugelach from the Marzipan bakery. The Marzipan bakery has pretty much the best rugelach in the world. In fact, its rugelach are much, much better than the rugelach than those of the bakery on the other side of the shuk, where I was injured. Had I gone to the Marzipan bakery instead of that bakery, I may have avoided the bombing altogether. But then, this blog would have never come to be. And you would have been bored. So gam ze l'tov! (See how the phrase is used? Isn't it so clever?) Besides, the bus stop itself is still by the first bakery. And I was blown up at the bus stop, and not at the bakery. So, really, the source of my rugelach did not matter. I would have been blown up either way.

But I digress.

Anyway, so I went to the shuk where I spent my time buying enough vegetables for a family of four for like, a year. If anyone ever tells you that the shuk is good for people on a budget (and they will, because people always say that), please be aware that they are lying. What happens is that you go and all of a sudden you realize that you need five butternut squash. And four eggplants. And half a dozen cucumbers. Even though when you were at home and looking at what you already had in your fridge, you did not think you needed them at all. The reason for this is because the moment you get near the shuk little shuk viruses enter your brain and eat it and turn you into some creepy zombie thing that runs around the shuk buying outrageous quantities of vegetables.

The other thing I did at the shuk was to try to stick to my diet. I did so by making extensive use of the diet group leader's mantra. Every time I passed a falafel place, a shipudia (specializes in meat skewered on an iron spit and grilled--my favorite is Sima), a bakery or any place selling prepared foods I sternly reminded myself "zeh lo bishvilech". And you know, it worked! Even when I was at the Marzipan bakery itself! Though I did notice that I was receiving a lot of strange looks. Note to self: next time, I should say this silently. And without wagging my finger in my face.

So all would be well and good, were it not for the extra rugelach. A co-worker is putting together an office event and I, like an idiot, volunteered the fact that I was going to the shuk and offered to pick up a couple kilos of rugelach and bring them to the office on Sunday. Unlike the rugelach which I bought for Practical Yael, and which are now safely ensconced at her house (or to be more accurate, safely making their way through the digestive systems of her five children), these rugelach are in my freezer. And they are taunting me. They want me to eat them. But I cannot do that. I promised the co-worker that I would bring them to the office. How bad would it look if I were to show up with 1.5 kilos of rugelach instead of two? And besides I must stick to my diet.

Suffice it to say, it has not been pretty.

For the last 36 hours I have endured periodic outbursts in which run I to the freezer, open the door, scream "zeh lo bishvilech! zeh lo bishvilech!" at the rugelach and then slam the freezer door shut. Then I run to a corner where I spend 10 minutes crouched, sobbing and poking myself in the belly.

All I can say about this is that it is a good thing that I am not married. My husband would have called the men in the white coats hours ago and had me committed hours ago. So gam zeh le tov that I am single.

One more hour and the god-forsaken rugelach are out of my house.
The scheduled post will be posted when and if Google ever allows "cut and paste" to start working again in Blogger.


:(

Not a good way to start a week.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Oh, and another thing.... Iran's has a nutcase President. We have a fascist foreign minister. BOTH of them run around saying vile and hateful things. So how come Iran's diplomats are now getting invited to barbeques, while we are getting slammed for being not nice?


If I start running around saying vile and hateful things, will you invite me to a barbeque? Please? I like barbeques.


Right--time for me to go to sleep.

He didn't just say what I think he did...did he?

This is going to be a short post. I am making it short because I am tired. I have been working far too many hours. And I just cleaned my apartment. I really, really should not be posting now. But I have not posted in forever, so I must.

And besides, I cannot be the only blogger in Israel who does not comment on Obama's stretching out of the hands toward the Muslim world. And his "understanding" Iran's deep desire to obtain nuclear weapon capabilities. (This understanding, no doubt, being completely unrelated to the hand stretching and not at all intended to curry favor with said stretchees).

Ahem. So here it is. My deep thoughts:


"PEACE FOR OUR TIME"


Don't know the reference? Google it.

As for me, I am going to figure out where the hell my building's bomb shelter is. And stock up on tuna.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

HELLO Katamon Konnections!

Hello! Can I have your attention please? Yes, you: the well-dressed, well-mannered and generally civilized looking Singles who took part in the Katamon Konnections Jerusalem Day Walking Tour tonight. Do you remember when you were walking down Shai Agnon Street from Historical point A to Historical point B? And some chubby chick in a tight tank top and spandex shorts (admittedly, not the most flattering of looks for her) ran by you? Well, not exactly running. More like a perky stagger. And she was wheezing and sweating buckets and had a face like a tomato? And she was muttering something about someone named Elmer? You remember her, yes?

Yes, well that was me. And I just wanted to let you know that I am available. Isn’t that exciting? Do feel free to get in touch!

I am pretty sure that this is not what people have in mind when they tell me to try going to more singles events. That’s okay. Because this was sure as hell not what I had in mind when I said that I hoped that getting in shape would help me get noticed by the opposite sex.

Oy. Just Oy.

The Inspiring Ass of Elmer

First, a disclaimer. Elmer does not exist. No—that is not right. Elmer does exist. He is just not Elmer. “Elmer” is what I am calling Elmer in place of using Elmer’s name. This is so that you will not know who Elmer is. So if you know an actual Elmer—and in particular if you know one in Jerusalem—and you read this post and you think “is she BLIND???? Elmer’s ass is butt ugly!”, please note the following:

1) I am not talking about Elmer.
2) I do not even know Elmer.
3) I completely agree with you about Elmer’s ass. An ass that large is a Crime Against Nature. Or Humanity. Or both.

I hope that this clarifies matters.

A few weeks ago, in an effort to resuscitate Roxie, my by-then neglected and depressed-to-the-point-of-suicidal-thoughts diet, I joined a diet support group. Last week, the group leader gave us an assignment. Each of us was to come up with positive mantras about NOT eating that we could use to counter-act the negative mantras we use to justify eating. So, for example, if you tell yourself “I need this” to justify eating chocolate, you start saying “I do not need this”. Clever, no? Anyway, I thought and thought and thought, and eventually I came up with two mantras of my very own. The first one is “it’s only six months”, because the group ends in six months. And then I can eat whatever I want. The second one is “if you lose weight, and become really hot, maybe you will have the opportunity to become better acquainted with Elmer’s ass”. Elmer being, in my humble opinion, the owner of what may be the best ass in Jerusalem.

[As an aside--just in case any of you have any concerns in respect to my virtue, you will be happy to note that my virtue, such as it may be, is perfectly safe. Unfortunately.]

Right, so those are my mantras, and I am quite pleased with them. I decided to share them with my friend Katrina Yellow (AKA Kat, the exercise Nazi). Not surprisingly, she was not particularly enthused with mantra number one. “DUDE! This is a lifetime change! Not just six months! Otherwise you are just going to get fat again!” The second mantra, however, she likes very much. In fact, she likes it so much that she has taken to screaming it at me, at the top of her lungs, while we are running. “PUSH IT! THINK ABOUT ELMER’S ASS!” And try as I might, I cannot get her to stop. What Kat does not seem to understand is just how small Jerusalem is. Those of you not familiar with Jerusalem, might think that it is a big city. We have half a million inhabitants. But as anyone who has lived here can tell you, Jerusalem is really a small town. Think of it as a Kibbutz whose steroid use has gone terribly, terribly wrong. Everyone seems to know or know of everyone else. So it is only a matter of time before someone who knows Elmer hears us and then goes back to Elmer and tells him that some madwoman in the San Simon park was running around and hollering about his ass. And then I will have to die of embarrassment. And if that is going to be my end, I may as well have the chocolate, no?

Ahhh well...it is only six months.


Monday, May 4, 2009

So, Yes, I Ran a 5K

For those alert and/or bored readers who read the comments to my last post, and are at all put out that I did not mention the my under-40 minute time in the 5K, please know that I really and truly was going to tell you all about it. But I was going to do it stages, see? Suspense like. First, start with the down post and then WHAMMO! Hit you with the 5K. But now the cat is out of the bag and the element of surprise is lost. I swear, I love my friends to death, but I ask you—how would Hitchcock have managed with friends like mine? Imagine—there you would be, watching Psycho, and instead of having that buildup of suspense, around the time that Janet Leigh was approaching the creepy house, one of Hitchcock's friends would have popped up on the screen. "Hey Hey Hey FAT Albert! Dude! You are going to tell the viewers that she gets killed, right? In the shower?" And then the suspense would have been lost and the movie would have been an utter failure and Hitchcock's creative legacy would have been spoiled.

Sigh…..

So yes, last Friday morning, my friend Sarah and I did our long-awaited 5K run. That we did it was was thanks to our friend, Kat. Perhaps you have a friend like this? The type that gets you to do stuff you normally would not do? My friend like that is Kat. Every so often, Kat sends me vaguely threatening messages:

"Hi! Check out the fat-burning fitness program on this website! You and I are starting it on Tuesday!"

Or:

"Dude! What goal are you picking for Kat's 10-day challenge?"

I would tell her no, but I do not dare. I am not quite sure what would happen if I were to do so, but I am sure I do not want to find out. I suspect that it might involve being left alone for extended periods with her infant son, while he is teething. If Kat is believed, this is a fate only slightly preferable to death. So, I just smile, and go along. Which is how I find myself doing things like running a 5K, agreeing to commit to a three-month fitness program and cutting back my internet time to 30 minutes a day for ten days.

Anyway, so I did the run, and I did not die and my time was 37:55—significantly better than my target time of an hour. I am also proud to note that I did not come in last. I managed, with great effort, to come in ahead of a few senior citizens (not all—just a few of the really pokey ones) and a guy who appeared to have cerebral palsy or some other disability and who was pretty much running with one functioning leg. The latter gave me some serious competition (I swear this is the truth). I was behind him the first half of the run, but I think he may have rested a bit at the water break, and that allowed me to pull ahead.

Sarah whipped my ass. This was not unexpected, seeing how she actually trained. Kat, however, did not come. She conveniently developed a seriously ill baby the night before the race and bagged on us.


My next 5K (because Kat has decided there WILL be another 5K) is in June. I will make sure to keep you all informed on the details of my exclusive training program, in which I plan to do lots of running, and instead end up goofing off at home. On the bright side, thanks to the 10-day challenge, instead of goofing off on the net, I am now goofing off by crocheting various unidentifiable items. Clearly, a more productive use of my time.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Haveil Havelim #215--the One Topic Edition

First, it’s May!



Happy Birthday Israel!



Before we can celebrate, we must remember. Lion of Zion discovered memorials to Frum Fighters in the Haganah. Several bloggers quantified the cost of our independence. How to be Israeli describes the feeling of Yom Hazikaron—kashe. Israelity remembers those he knows who have paid the price of our independence. Beneath the Wings shared the fears—and the lessons—inspired by Yom Hazikaron. The Velveteen Rabbi remembers from afar, and wonders if this season will ever be free of fresh reasons to mourn.

Yom Haatzmaut provides time for reflection. Jewish Israel entreats us to stand together. For Zion’s Sake remembers the 2000 years of waiting and the last 61 years of our wait being fulfilled. Lion of Zion discusses the value saying Hallel on Yom Haatzmaut, as opposed to ongoing, more substantial measures of appreciation for State of Israel. (The say or not say the Hallel debate is also here). Torat Yisrael provides us with an analysis as to whether Jerusalem really is the capital of Israel (well-written, but even if it were not, worth reading even if only for seeing a right wing blog use Yossi Beilin’s Geneva Initiative as support for his argument). Benji and I’ll Call Baila shared 61 things and the 61st thing, respectively, they love about Israel.

Elms in the Yard photographed some of the festivities, as did Jacob Richman. I’ll Call Baila and her family shared photographs as well—they celebrated at the beach. Coffee and Chemo celebrated with her friends and family. MyPanim celebrated in Australia. Our Shiputzim celebrated at Latrun. Achas L’Maala celebrated in Kochav Hashachar. Dr Savta explains how to mangal and Esser Aguroth analyses said festivities from a (sorta) Halachic perspective. How to be Israeli enjoyed the festivities…but received an unpleasant reminder that Israel has far to go in the area of race relations.

I myself am thoroughly ‘mangaled’—two mangals in two days. My Yom Haatzmaut is to be considered a success.

In other news (yes, the world has continued to spin)—Religion and State in Israel gives us a summary of this week’s developments in the aliyah industry.

Finally, and always fun—a few only in Israel moments from Torat Yisrael, Snoopy the Goon , A Time of the Signs and a lovely birthday greeting from Cosmic X.


Jewish community

For everything there is a season…but what happens when the season ends? Shira Salamone and her community have had a rough winter, but the spring seems to be highlighting the losses, as opposed to providing relief or heralding new growth. To look at the problem from another angle, the Rebbetzin’s Husband asks why synagogues do not make enough of an effort to harvest the low hanging fruit in their communities. Could this provide some measure of relief to dwindling shul memberships? Letters of Thought visited a very different Jewish community—that in Uman. ProfK discusses the vast—and at times inexplicable—differences between the Holocaust generation and subsequent generations. And Shtetl Fabulous—looking at the Orthodox Jewish community—is inspired to ask “what happens to an off the derech-Mormon”?

In Washington, however, May has opened up with good news for the two Aipac employees charged with espionage.

Who are the people in your neighborhood?



Funny—I looked and looked but could not find a clip of this song featuring nutcase dictators. Educational television FAIL!

In Iran, Ahmedinejad’s is still obsessed (as per Judeopundit). (We get a humorous take on Iran from The Israel Situation). Daled Amos brings us a review of PA violations of Oslo.

[A question—and this really is a question and not a snarky remark. Have we Israelis acted in accordance with Oslo? I ask because I would guess that the establishment of new settlements and expansion of existing settlements in the West Bank would have been banned by the Accords. If this is not a problem, and Israel is in compliance, the outrage makes sense. If not, and if the whole Oslo process is pretty much dead and buried, Jewish/Israeli condemnation of PA acts on the basis that “they are violating Oslo”, as opposed to on the basis that the actions are those of murderous, violent thugs, is not only hypocritical, but also wildly unproductive, insofar as the argument can be pretty well shot down in thirty seconds or less.]

Snoopy the Goon suggests a creative and peaceful means of bringing an end to all of the conflict.

Judaism

Frum Satire suggests add-on features to make kosher phone cards and kosher cell phones even more kosher. (Hesh—you forgot to add an tase blast if you speak Lashon Hara.) Ashi and Rami give us a Parshah for Parenting and HomeShuling explains why she sends her children to Jewish Day School. Shorty’s Adventure and takes on the parsha—the prohibition on tattoos. Both the Velveteen Rabbi and Harry-er than them all are inspired by the parsha to discuss the issue of boundaries—the first directly and the latter indirectly. Torah Lab gives us guidelines on what to do and not to do during the Sefira. A Simple Jew gives us a lesson in Hassidus—overcoming Nitzachon. (I know you submitted another post—but this one was really special so I substituted it).

…And Just Plain Old Living

Cosmic X got to deal with a dead cat. Mish Weiss is preparing for battle. Benji discovers the pestilent side of Twitter and explores Israeli eyewear and Israelity encourages us to visit Tel Aviv Bauhauses. The Real Shaliach is doing something rather inexplicable with Winnie the Pooh. Beneath the Wings had an encounter with the flying beasties and Me-ander had an undesired visitor. The National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame inducted seven new members (from Sportsbiz). The Israel Chronicles shares a story that touches the heart. And as for me? Things are up and down....