Friday, December 16, 2011

Jerusalem Night Run

This week, Jerusalem hosted its first 10K Night Run. Ostensibly, the Night Run was supposed to get all of us runners pumped up and excited about the Jerusalem Marathon which is right around the corner. I think that this is nonsense. The Jerusalem Marathon is a full three months away. If you ask me, the real reason that Jerusalem decided to have a Night Run is because Jerusalem has a problem.

The problem is one of demographics. Young people, or at least young people with an interest in useful education and gainful employment, either do not come to Jerusalem at all or they come to study and then run away the moment they have their degree. And it is hard, HARD, to run a city when a staggering percentage of your citizenry does not work and does not pay taxes. So our fearless leaders are trying to address this. Apparently, they did some surveys and they came to the conclusion that the reason everyone keeps running away is not the lack of job opportunities and not the rock-hurling Haredim and not the ongoing war on women and not the rampant religious coercion and in short it is not that the city is well along its merry way to becoming a kosher version of Tehran or Kabul. No, the reason is image. Young people do not see Jerusalem as being cool. Jerusalem is not happening. So our leaders said to themselves—follow the logic here—if Tel Aviv had a Night Run and Tel Aviv is cool then if Jerusalem has a Night Run it will be cool too.

Genius, no?

Right, so our fearless leaders were possessed of a plan. All that was left was the minor issue of execution. Compare, if you will, the Night Run in Tel Aviv versus the Night Run in Jerusalem:


Tel Aviv

Jerusalem

Scheduled in

October, when the Tel Aviv nights are still nice and warm, but no longer hot.

December, when the Jerusalem nights (and the days) are fucking freezing.

Sponsored by

Nike. The god of athletic wear.

Aminach. A mattress manufacturer. (WTF?)

Number of participants

About 15,000

About 1,000

Entertainment

Super-trendy world music stations all along the route

A couple college students with drums at Jaffa Gate.


The winner of the Jerusalem Night Run got a mattress. Runners-up got pillows. I do not know what Nike gave out in Tel Aviv, but somehow, I do not think their prize basket looked quite like ours.

God bless 'em, our fearless leaders. They try so hard.

Of course, I signed up. Because, hey, the Jerusalem Marathon (Half, for me) is right around the corner and I need to train. And I am a total sucker who is willing to pay NIS 90 to do a run I do every week anyway, for free. So I went, and I got my ugly-yet-very-functional running shirt and the route was super flat, for Jerusalem. But, sadly, a bit boring. And it was only sort of freezing. But I finished in what was, for me, very respectable time, 1:17. And then I went home and read articles about how women in Jerusalem are being forced to dress in religious garb if they want to visit the Clalit Health Plan main clinic, and how a Haredi rabbi justified segregation of women on the basis that “this is how it was done at Auschwitz”.

But yes, a Night Run is going to solve all of our problems.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Driving Directions

This past weekend, a Tel Avivit friend and I made plans for her to come to Jerusalem on Saturday. Our plan was to go to the Old City, where we were going to cover up our whorish slacks with wrap-around skirts (dug out of my summer clothes stash for the occasion) and hop over to the the Kotel for a good pray. Once that was done, we would lose the skirts and move on to one of the non-Jewish quarters for lunch at a non-Kosher restaurant. My friend was excited about this itinerary because while Tel Aviv boasts countless non-Kosher restaurants, many of which are far better than the ones in Jerusalem, the ability to juxtapose a meal at a one with a trip to the holiest site in Judaism—on Shabbat no less—is a uniquely “Yerushalmi” treat. Alas, on her way out of Tel Aviv there was an unfortunate encounter between the back of her car and a dumpster so she had to cancel. I would chalk this up to G-d preventing her from engaging in improper behavior on Shabbat, but, given that her Tel Aviv alternative probably did not end up including anything more devout or wholesome than what we had planned, that would have been be an exercise in futility. Which I am sure G-d realized, seeing how He is omniscient. And why on earth would He want to waste His time?

Anyway, before the dumpster incident, I had sent her directions so she would not get lost on her way here. She liked them a great deal and suggested I share them on my blog, so that our weekend plans would not go completely to waste. Accordingly, I am happy to present “How to Get from Tel Aviv to Gan Hapaamon, in Jerusalem. With Commentary”

  1. Take the Ayalon Freeway to Route 1. Do not go into spaced-out-freeway mode until you are safely on Route 1, or you are liable to end up in the wrong lane and find yourself going somewhere else entirely. Which is not necessarily bad, but there are no holy sites there and even if there are, I have the holy wraparound skirts. And I am in Jerusalem.
  2. Stay on Route 1 until you pass the Lod and (I think) Route 6 exits. The Route 6 exit may be after the exit I want you to take, so if you pass it, you may or may not have gone too far.
  3. Get off at the next (?) exit--Ben Shemen (443) This way, you get to avoid any potentially rioting Haredim who have apparently been amusing themselves near the center of Jerusalem or at the entrance to Jerusalem or somewhere (details have been fuzzy) by lobbing rocks at cars. Of course, 443 could also at include rocks thrown by Palestinians, but I do not believe it has recently. And it is flat and less twisting.
  4. Is it just me or do you also find it rather odd that when a Palestinian throws rocks, the police toss him in jail for terrorism but if a Jew throws rocks, the police do nothing? My thought—throw them all in jail (call them terrorists, fanatics, whatever you want) give them all piles of rocks and let them throw rocks at each other while the rest of us go on with our lives without having to factor in rock throwing into our driving directions. Voila! Happiness all around!
  5. Anyway, so, now you are on 443. Stay there. I mean, yes, keep driving, but keep going straight. Eventually, you will go through a checkpoint. You are now really close to Jerusalem. It is also around this point that the road becomes Sderot Menachem Begin.
  6. Before the road was Sderot Menachem Begin it was a few other things. This is common in nature. Like... before a butterfly is a butterfly it is a pupa and then a caterpillar and then a full grown Sderot Menachem Begin. Anyway, I am not quite sure what it was, though I am reasonably certain that (a) it was neither a butterfly nor a pupa and (b) Golda Meir is in there somewhere, even though that sounds a bit obscene. Whatever. Do you care? I can look it up if you do.
  7. Keep going straight. Do not take any exits. G-d knows where you will end up and then your only option will be to call me up for help and I will have to give you directions. And I am a tad dyslexic in these things. Really, this will not end well.
  8. The last exit is Golumb; you have no choice but to take it. Damn it. Okay, wait, let me look at the map....I’m turning the phone so I can figure out what direction….yes… turn left here. G-d bless you iphone. It is so much easier turning your around than, let's say, a map. Or my computer screen.
  9. One of the first lights after you turn is Pat Junction. One the right side, on the near corner, there is an ugly parking lot and on the far corner there is a Delek gas station. Turn right here.
  10. Immediately get into the left hand lane. Turn left at the first light
  11. The name of the street you are on starts as Yehuda Hanassi and then changes 75 times over the next kilometer. It’s all good—this provides employment for countless city clerks. Just keep going straight. You will pass through one light (my neighborhood) and two traffic circles.
  12. After traffic circle # 2, you will come to a light. Go straight. You are now on Emek Refaim, land of a thousand restaurants, all of which are closed for Shabbat.
  13. Go (get this!) straight! Toward the end of Emek Refaim, you will need to veer to your right (kind of a modest forky thing) because the Derech Beit Lechem has bitch-slapped Emek Refaim and has taken over. The park and the parking is immediately after this, on your left.
  14. Look! I’m here! With the skirts!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Angela

Angela Erickson Jandrew died a week ago, Saturday night. She was a friend of mine from high-school, one of a few I am in touch with today, some 23 years after graduation. “One of a few” both because of the impact of time and distance on relationships and because I never had that many high school friends to begin with. Back when my social and communication skills and ability to read social cues were seriously deficient as opposed to being slightly off; back when I was really and perhaps unpleasantly weird as opposed to a bit eccentric; back when my mantra was “you haven’t thrown a public temper tantrum since you were nine and that means you can progress” and back in the days before I could pass for normal, there existed a few people that liked me or were at least willing to tolerate my hanging around. Friends and non-actively-hostile acquaintances, I like to call them. Angela was one of the friends. She actually liked me. That was what I wrote her mother when I got the news of her passing. Thank you for raising such a person—that could look at someone who was unlikeable and somehow see a person to like. Because I do not know how I would have made it through high school without these people in my life. Those were truly dark days for me.

This is what I hate about myself. An amazingly good person has just died. She liked people. She was positive. She volunteered regularly and she kept it up for years as opposed to slacking off after a year or two. She went to church. She was inspired by her cancer to volunteer more and raise money for cancer research. In short, she was honest-to-goodness good. And instead of focusing on her life, I am turning her death into something all about me. Really, it disgusts me. This is especially true today, on Yom Kippur. And even more especially true when one considers that—at least of the date of this writing—I have been granted my second chance and Angela has not. It just is not right. I realize that this may not be the best time to say this, seeing how that this is the day when G-d is doing the accounting and is sealing my fate for the year and if I am not going to be in synagogue at the very least I should be trying to make nice, apologizing for my sins, thinking positive thoughts about Him, asking him for shit and so on, but really, sometimes you just have to ask “G-d, just what the FUCK are you THINKING?”

What can I say? My timing is bad. But you have to admit that the question applies.

Before anyone feels too bad for me, I should point out that it is not as though I have been a particularly close or a good friend. She has been ill for some time. Most of my “support” has been comprised of commenting on her Facebook statuses or ‘liking’ the more positive ones. I could have done more. I could have sent actual messages. I could have called. I could have sent her a care package from Israel to cheer her up. I did none of that. Now I cannot look at her Facebook page without wanting to cry, or actually crying. Because, you know, that is so helpful.

Anyway, the net result of all of this is that I have spent the last week in a state of emotional crisis with the overall theme being “maybe I made a mistake in leaving the States and maybe I should move back”. Because, if I were in the States, I could date non-Jews and then get married because Jewish guys clearly do not want me so I need to be somewhere with more of a mix so as to ensure success. Whereas if stay here I will stay alone for the rest of my life. Which means my life will have been wasted. My friends have been quick to point out the myriad holes in this theory: breathtakingly faulty logic, I love Israel, I have a good life here including good friends and a good job, my love life or lack of same is not the sole measurement of my success or lack of same, the US economy’s current place in the toilet, I am un-insurable in the States, relative vegetable quality, etc. At this point, I am coming around to their point of view. The vegetable argument is a strong one, as is the fact that seeing how I get horribly homesick for Israel if I am away for more than ten days actually moving to another country would probably be a spectacularly bad idea. So while I am still making vaguely threatening noises about moving to Los Angeles (do not ask me how that city got into my head—I have no clue) or AT LEAST Tel Aviv, I know that I am staying in Israel.

So now I am moving over to emotional crisis-stage two which is, if no less self-centered, at least a bit more conventional. What does death do, but to remind us of our mortality? I am 41 years old. What have I done so far? What could have I have done, had I focused and used my time wisely? What percentage of my life have I squandered? I dream of being a writing a book. I dream of writing many books. How many books could I have published so far had I been writing instead of mindlessly surfing the internet? Or writing instead of working 12 hour days? How many years have I promised myself to stop working crazy hours? I look at old pictures. I question previous decisions. I remind myself of every opportunity I have squandered, in every area of my life. If I had just stuck to that diet, I would be thin now. That nice guy in ulpan—if I had ignored the fact that he had a girlfriend in Hungary, maybe I would be married now. I promise myself that this will change. Everything will change. Maybe not this week, of course, this week being my week to be in a funk. But next week, for sure. I remind myself just how long it has been since I threw a public temper tantrum. How long it has been since I quit smoking. How long it has been that I have friends. How long it has been that I am seen as normal. You see, Gila, you can change.

The worst part? This will pass. As much as I am panicked now—ohmyGodlifeisshortandIhavenotdonewhatIwanttodosoImuststarttoday—the panic will pass. I will go back to my regularly scheduled procrastination. I will go back to my weekly passes over my 10 year plan, in which I journal my progress, noting little to no progress but somehow always justifying it. I will go back to my excuses. I will still tear up if I look at Angela’s Facebook page, but the urgency will have faded to a ghost. That scares me more than anything. Yes, you can change, but only if you do so in time. Eventually, you run out of time and you run out of chances. If I do not have the feeling of urgency to drive me, what will?

But before it passes, and while I still feel it, Angela, thank you for being a friend. I will miss you. The world is a better place for your having been here and a poorer place in your absence.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

So, my weekly blog post is now overdue and the problem is that I do not have a lot to write about. I am sitting here at Aroma with a journalist friend and just now we were discussing the matter. Of course, being a professional journalist, she has suggested any number of sensible, thoughtful, mature topics to write about while I came up with a fab idea which was none of the above. I would elaborate on my idea but the problem is that I have embarked on a mission to go on one blind date a week until such fine day when I meet that Special Someone with whom I go on two or three dates or even MORE dates with, in which case I shall be able to replace said number of weeks of blind dates with non-blind dates and wouldn’t that be nice? But anyway, on these blind dates I sometimes mention that I am the proud owner of a neglected blog and, inevitably, the blind date wants to know the name of the blog and sometimes he even reads it. In which case it would be an extraordinarily bad idea to write about what I was thinking about writing about because it would make a bad impression and then he will definitely not call me again and I am hardly going to get up to Date Two that way, am I? So, if you are my most recent blind date or an upcoming blind date and you are reading this and you want to know what my topic was, please note that:

  1. This is simply not the type of matter I would ever even remotely consider discussing with a stranger on our first or second date (although it is, apparently, the type of matter I would seriously consider putting on my blog for everyone and his grandmother to see, assuming that his grandmother reads blogs)
  2. Once we have gone out for at least 20 years, I can share this information with you. Said deadline is as per consultation with my friend, the professional journalist.
  3. By said time, I will have no recollection of either the conversation or the blog post. If you are lucky, however, maybe the professional journalist will have taken notes. (Doubtful—she really disliked my idea—but you know, those journalist instincts are said to be powerful).

As a result of the above, I am left with nothing to write about apart from my “one-blind-date-a-week-mission”. The reason for the blind dates is so that I can meet Mr. Special Someone. The reason for having one blind date per week is so I can 1) keep up the momentum and 2) any more than one will render me insane. Which is also not likely to lead to Date Two.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sweet Returns and Violent Ceramic Cows

“Think of it as an investment”.

That is my response when people ask why I would throw a book swap to raise money for Alyn or a clothing swap to raise money for Alyn or do something else to raise money for Alyn. (Why Alyn? See here). Why do I not just take the money I would spend on supplies or cookie production raw materials or decorations or whatever, give that to Alyn, and call it a day? But if I do that, my contribution is limited to what I have available. If I invest wisely, my contribution can grow. My contribution can be equal to all of my contribution dollars, plus a bunch of yours. And you walk away with some books or cookies. Or both! Win win!

As a "what would ideally be a brief but will instead be a long-winded" digression, Israelis frequently ask that question and Anglos never do. This is not necessarily a point in favor of the one and against the other. Perhaps Anglos give more to charity than Israelis and have found creative ways to get people to give even more. Or perhaps Israelis are equally charitable, they just do not require incentives in order to give. Now, of course, as an Anglo, I secretly lean towards the former while giving public lip service to the latter. The lip service is necessary so that I do not come across as one of those horrid, judgmental Anglos who loves Israel but hates Israelis. (Did I not sound admirably reasonable and fair in the first section of this paragraph?) In general, one does not want to come across as judgmental because, unless one is judging: the Right, the Left, the Hilonim (seculars), the Haredim, Tel Avivim, Settlers, the people in favor of the demonstrations or the people against the demonstrations, judging is simply not okay. And it is particularly not okay on Tisha B’Av, and especially when it is Tisha B’Av and one is not fasting and/or doing anything else in honor of the day and so, in other words, one is at a point where topping it off with some bad-mouthing of my fellow Jews could well be the thing that just pushes G-d off that proverbial edge, so far as my fate is concerned. Which would be bad. In particular when I am trying to get back into the dating thing and thereby providing G-d with any number of excellent and entertaining opportunities to smite me with, I don’t know, another aging Sonny Bono gone to seed look-alike, like He did last year.

And now we are done digressing….

Anyway, one learns over time what works; which investments are profitable. Book swaps, for instance, if scheduled well, can do very well. The trick is to not go overboard on the refreshments and while you need to have a good supply of trading books, by no means should you allow your guests to go overboard on the book dumping. (Last year I was left with about six sacks and cases of old books to dispose of post-swap. This year, I am imposing a book cap). Clothing swaps on the other hand are nice on paper—everyone says “oh that sounds like fun” but in the end very few people show and it is not profitable.

And then there is the at-work cookie sale.

That goes well if you have a Yanay. Yanay is my co-worker. When I told him that my intent was to put out the cookies in the kitchen together with a piggy bank in the shape of a parti-colored cow and a note (Five NIS for Two Cookies! All Proceeds Go To Alyn!) he told me I was dead wrong, a horrible salesperson, and that was not the way to sell cookies. Instead, he grabbed the cow, had me fill some plates up with cookies and he proceeded to march from office to office with me in tow. I would start off with this wimpy spiel about how Alyn is a great cause (it is) and the cookies are really good (and they are; I do make some fine cookies) and please support this cause and blah blah blah and then Yanay would jump in and tell the person that no discussion was necessary, it's for charity, cough up the cash, he or she was going to buy cookies. Or else Yanay would brain them with the cow. Now, the cow would have only survived one braining (it only cost 25 sheks and I suspect that the ceramics may not be of the highest quality), so if Yanay had to make good on his threat, say, early on, when we were in R&D, we would have had nothing with which to intimidate QA, HR and the other departments. Fortunately, the fear factor was enough. In fact, we managed to achieve nearly 100% participation, including from those who 1) do not eat cookies and 2) are Haredi so they do not eat my cookies. In the end, I tripled my charity investment. Suffice it to say that I am way impressed with Yanay’s sale skills and am totally going to consult with him in respect to clothing swaps….

Here is Yanay, with his weapon of choice. I can safely say that, at least for today, Yanay is my absolute favorite Israeli in the whole, wide world.


(And a thanks to my office mates who bought nearly all the cookies! NIS 170 is now safely ensconced in Alyn’s coffers!)

Feeling jealous? You two would like to buy some virtual cookies? Sponsor me here!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Why I Should Probably Stop Watching CSI

Some people should not date. Some people have brains which are so convoluted that they should just be consigned to a lifetime of solitary living with a passel of cats or, at the most, matched up with someone at random and told “Voila! You are married”. They and their brains not have to undergo the agony which is dating. More importantly others should not have to undergo the agony that is dating them.

Some people would be me. And if it weren’t for the fact that 1) I have a severe allergy to cats 2) calf-length skirts and those high-collared shirts look really horrible on me and 3) Shabbat observance would mean I would NEVER get my sewing class homework done, I would totally go the cat or Haredi route.

(You know, now that I think about it, I am kind of wondering if “some people” could be expanded to “accountants and others of a suspicious nature”. I mean, I have never done a survey. Maybe I should! And then I can publish it and make lots of passive income! I am thinking about passive income because I am taking a personal finance course and the instructor told us that we should focus on passive income as a way of increasing our total income. Except—and I could be wrong on this point—I strongly suspect that there is not a particularly large market for surveys dealing with the mating habits of accountants and others of a suspicious nature. Never mind then. Back to the post.)

Right, so here is the problem. I mean, the first date, I am fine. I mean, I do not know the guy and the date will probably suck and we will probably despise each other and then (please G-d) never see each other again so what is there to worry about? And normally the first date meets or even exceeds all expectations so there is no second date so that is fine as well. But sometimes, on rare occasions, I have a second date. And my poor, demented little brain goes bonkers. It spends virtually every second between date one and date two frantically careening between extremes. One moment it is planning the wedding and the next it is imagining a scene out of CSI (which, incidentally, I watch far too much of) in which a bunch of crime lab specialists crack jokes over my battered corpse which has been abandoned in the woods. And then we are cooing over our first child! And then WHAM smack over to the other side of the brain in which he turns out to be a pathological liar! Or abusive! Or unfaithful! Or a cad! Or a con man who is going to abscond with all of my savings! Granted, seeing how no one wants my survey the sums will be paltry, but still.

Exhausting does not begin to describe it. If he is someone in my circle (read “an Anglo” because if you are Anglo and you are in Israel, my friends and I can find someone who knows you) the situation is not so bad. Make a few phone calls and it is easy to confirm that the suitor is who is says he is, has the job he says he has and is not possessed of criminal tendencies. But without that—utter mental exhaustion.

Last week, for instance, I went on a first date on a Sunday. We decided to go on a second date. That was scheduled for Friday night. That means I had five whole days for my brain to completely go to town. By Friday I had managed to freak myself out to the point that I deposited a piece of paper with my date’s name and phone numbers with my friend Galia. If I turn up in a ditch somewhere, I told her, this is where to send the police. Her response was along the lines of “no problem, but if you manage to get yourself killed on Shabbat, be aware that I am not going to do anything until Motzei Shabbat”. Hey, that is cool. Motzei Shabbat is soon enough. I mean, the system worked out fine with the bombing—no reason to assume that it would not be sufficient here. And, hey, I would be dead, so what would be the rush?

I know, I know. Deranged. Sigh….. Hmmmm....maybe this is why I am not married?


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Enhanced fish tanks

Let’s start with a conversation I had with Kayla at Terem while waiting to have blood tests done:

Me: Hey, they added a fish tank!

Kayla: Yes! It’s nice.

Me: Yeah, lots of fish. That brown one with the spots is funky looking.

Kayla: I think that is a catfish.

Me: Aaaaahhhhh.

Me: You know, they are not eating each other.

Kayla: What?

Me: The fish are not eating each other. Not even the brown one, though I know he wants to. I can see it. Wouldn’t it be so much more entertaining if they would?

Kayla: Well, then you would have just one big fish.

Me: Well, once you run out of fish, you could always toss in the odd poorly behaved child. Or random excess cats from the neighborhood.

Kayla: Yeah, I don’t think so.

Now, clearly, Kayla is wrong. The tank, it is nice, but where is the action here? I decided to go straight to the Terem top: Dr. No.

Me: Hey Dr. No! You know the fish tank you have in the Katamon branch?

Dr. No.: [Looks at me with suspicion.] Yes….

Me: You need to add some carnivorous fish.

Dr. No: Why?

Me: Because it is boring. [You would think that this would be obvious, but apparently not.]

I then proceed to explain the concept—the fish wars, the annoying children, the cats.

Dr. No: Somehow, I do not think that we can do that.

Between you and me, he wants to. He just is afraid of the potential liability if parents take advantage of the tank to get rid of the non-annoying children as well. Insurance rates would skyrocket. It is a business, must be prudent. I get it.

Just so you can see my vision….

Standard fish tank:



Enhanced fish tank:

You see? I was right about the brown fish!

You no, maybe Dr. No is right. Leave the standard fish tank out in the waiting room to lull the unsuspecting populace. Then put the enhanced fish tank in with the phlebotomists. To get them in the mood.

(P.S.--if you click on the picture, you can see it nice and big. My enhanced fish looks wonderful enlarged).

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Alyn Wheels of Love, Take Four

For months, no, YEARS, I have been promising myself that I would start blogging again regularly. This is because my true goal in life to be a Writer. I know this because that is what it says in my Ten Year Plan. And if I blog, that means I am writing. Which means I am working towards my goal. I do so like working towards my goals; it gives me such a warm, fuzzy feeling of satisfaction. But, as a cursory review of my blog posts will reveal, I have not been writing. Every day I tell myself "Gila, from tomorrow, you will start to write every day" in the hope that one day I will wake up and it will be tomorrow already.

Part of the problem is that I really do not have anything to write about. (Do you really want to hear more about my adventures with Excel? I thought not.) Last night at Shabbat dinner I shared my troubles with my fellow guests. In a random fit of helpfulness, E offered to insult me so I would have something to write about. And he tried but he was off his game and so that did not work. (I was kind and reassured him that it was just old age and that incontinence and senility would follow).

So I guess that leaves me with Alyn.

This week I signed up for my fourth Alyn Hospital Wheels of Love charity bike ride. I did so even though I had sworn up and down that I was not, under any circumstances, going to do it this year. I was going to wait until next year so that I would have a year break in between rides. The training, the not training and then agonizing about it, the shnorring…it is so much work. Bu-uuuuut the route looks like fun and I want to see Practical Yael (because spending five months shnorring and training and not-training-but-agonizing is so much easier than driving the 1.5 hours to her house) and Alyn sent an email egging me on to sign up RIGHT NOW! ON THE FIRST DAY OF REGISTRATION! DO IT! YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO! YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO BE IN THE TOP FIFTY! YOU. MUST. HAVE. THIS. I DARE YOU! I DOUBLE DARE YOU! and Roxie the Diet has come back and isn’t this a great way to get myself to exercise more? Multi-tasking! How efficient! If I am biking all the time I will lose the (now 17) extra kilos no problem. Though at this point I know my co-workers well enough to know that none of them are going to pimp me out but that is okay because, frankly, most of my time will probably be spent in not-training-but-agonizing mode which does not burn nearly as many calories.

In a nutshell, I have lost my mind.

Many fine shnorring posts (and emails, for those of you lucky enough to be in my contact list) to follow. Because from tomorrow, I am going to start writing every day.

Friday, April 15, 2011

And the winner is.....


If you will recall, a few months ago I realized I had to decide what I was going to do for Pesach. Now that Pesach is, well, here, Midianite Mama asked me, "Nu, what did you decide?"

Right, I must alert my loyal readers! All six of them that are left, seeing how I never blog anymore! :)

Anyways, I am pleased to announce that the winner is:

HOLLAND!!!


And a tulip, because it is Holland.



Isn't it beautiful? It is probably the only tulip I am going to see because the real tulips are probably waiting for it to be warm for them to come out. As are the tourists with any sense. But no matter, I'm going. I'll visit a flower shop and see a tulip there.

(As you can see from the above, Excel is also excited, even though it does not get to go because I am not bringing my computer with me. I suspect it is happy it gets a vacation from me.)

I chose Holland because it is the type of place that allows one to do "adventure tourism"--in my case lots and lots of biking--without having to actually be adventurous or even put out too much effort. I mean, it's Europe. It's safe. Everyone speaks English-- probably better than I do. AAAAAAnd the country is flat as a pancake and, based on reports I have received to date, is basically one, enormous bike path. For someone used to biking in Jerusalem (one enormous hill, uphill all ways, share the bike paths with cars) this is so not adventurous. And yet despite this, I get full credit for being Someone Who Seeks Adventure! Like, I can put that on Jdate and everything!

Score!!!!!

Off to pack!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Roi Klein

Last night I went to a Shabbat dinner.

You can tell already that this is not going to end well, can’t you. It never does.

Anyway, I was at this meal and we were talking about Japan and how selfless the guys trying to stop the nuclear crisis are. And how that is characteristic of Japanese society. And how we are not like that here. And then this guy—let’s call him E—at the table says: Roi Klein. The name rings a bell. Hey, I ask, isn’t that the war hero with the house that they want to tear down?

And…well…all hell breaks loose. You see, public opinion in respect to this case is that you cannot possibly tear down the house of a war hero. My hosts and fellow guests hold views in line with public opinion. I do not. My view—and I stated it— was that maybe, just maybe, there is something to be said for the rule of law in a society. And that no, the death of a soldier, even an extraordinarily selfless and heroic death, is not by definition reason to ignore the law. It may be. It may not be. It depends on the situation. But it is not a given. Suffice it to say that by the end of the meal I had been screamed at and branded as a demagogue by E.

Had I stayed a bit longer I suspect I could have collected a few other equally charming epithets. Instead, I made my escape and went home. I went to sleep. I woke up. And I was still pissed. But then I said, “Gila, what do you really know about this case apart from the sound bites you have heard on the news? Are you qualified to have an opinion? Go online and learn something”

So I did. And this is what I learned.
  1. Roi Klein’s house is located in Hayovel, an illegal settlement in the West Bank.
  2. In 2005, while a portion of the houses were still under construction, Peace Now filed suit claiming that the construction of 12 buildings on the site was illegal and the structures should be demolished.
  3. The government responded that there was already a demolition order. That is, from day one the government has agreed with Peace Now that the construction was illegal.
  4. In September 2005, Peace Now brought the case to the Supreme Court requesting that, if this if a demolition order exists, that the order be executed.
  5. Rather than actually responding to and dealing with the issue, since the date the case was initially filed the government has requested 30 extensions.
  6. In July 2006, Roi Klein was killed in action.
  7. The case, therefore, preceded Roi Klein's death. His death did not change any of the issues raised (ie. legality of outpost/ ownership of land/ existence of permits).
  8. Ergo, while what happened to him is indeed tragic, it is not relevant to the original suit. And that, contrary to public opinion, neither Peace Now nor the Supreme Court woke up one day and announced that it felt like persecuting widows and orphans, and by golly, the widow and orphans of Roi Klein would do just fine, thank you.
  9. In July 2009 the Supreme Court handed down its decision. The government was to give the residents of the outpost a chance to present any final arguments and—barring any new evidence coming to light—was to demolish the outpost.
Most of the above information is taken from the Peace Now website. The reason for this is that theirs is the only website that provided actual information: documents, copies of filings, the Supreme Court decision and so on. I tried to balance this out with information from the right but an hour of searching yielded nothing but the the requisite pictures of Roi Klein in Happier Times (with or without the widow and children) and verbiage to the effect that either the Supreme Court, the government, Peace Now or some combination thereof were a bunch of evil anti-Semites with no respect for the contributions of the fallen. What can I say…not so useful if the goal is to develop an understanding of the underlying issues in a lawsuit.

What conclusion did I come to? That this is not even an issue of whether or not a fallen soldier should be outside the law because this has very little to do with Roi Klein.

I believe that the members of the general population who decry the destruction of his house are sincere. But the politicians, the Right, the settlement movement? I do not. For them, Roi Klein has been turned into a useful tool for the drumming up of emotions and public fervor to support something they might not have supported otherwise. Lots of Israelis do not support the Right, the settlement enterprise and the whole Greater Israel movement, but what Israeli will not support a heroic and conveniently dead soldier? איזה יופי! Fantastic! Let’s latch an entire neighborhood to his back!

You see, that’s the rub—the other 11 houses. Had these same parties voiced reactions along the lines of “okay, the Supreme Court ruled against us and we accept it but please, leave Roi’s house standing” that would be one thing. I might disagree—again, just because he died it does not necessarily follow that we can ignore the law—but I would respect that the sentiment was sincere and was driven by a genuine desire to honor a man who made the ultimate sacrifice and to look after his family. (In fact, that is what Peace Now suggested.) Instead what is happening here is that the Right/ government/ settlement lost the case and have resorted to using a dead soldier’s sacrifice as a means of avoiding implementation of the ruling in respect to the entire settlement. Of getting what they want.

It is the lack of honesty and candor that gets to me. The deception. The concealment of one’s true goals behind a wall of propaganda. That and the hijacking of someone else’s sacrifice and suffering as a means of furthering their goals. Even if the wife agrees…. It is not their story. It is his. Even if he is dead, it belongs to him.

E. has claimed that I expressed a view that one cannot compare Roi’s act to that of the Japanese who are risking their lives to solve the crisis in the nuclear reactors. Not at all. You certainly can compare them. The question is whether you can compare how society treats such acts in the two societies. If, G-d forbid, one of the Japanese workers were to die from radiation poisoning, will Japanese society then be treated to an episode in which a large group of people demand to be exempted from the law because he died?

Somehow, I doubt it.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Burn-out

Hi! How are you?

Thanks to doing the crazy hours thing for over a year, complete with a ramp up into “life-blasting” hours levels over the last six months, I am now officially burned out. At this point, all I want to do is curl up in fetal position under a blanket and cry. I have not done so for two reasons. First, while my office does feature the beanbag I commandeered from my company’s beanbag room (now devoid of any beanbags thanks to everyone commandeering them for their offices and therefore more properly termed “the very ugly bomb shelter”), it does not have a blanket. And you know, it’s just not the same without the blanket.

To illustrate, using excel:

With blanket:


Without blanket:

Second, even according to my admittedly shockingly lax standards, engaging in either one of the above at the office would be really unprofessional.

As a result, I have had no other option but to continue working, though I do spice it up with grouchiness, self-pity and projecting a general atmosphere of doom , gloom and clinical depression.

I feel bad for my co-workers.

On the bright side, see the boots I am wearing in the above pictures? They are new! Aren’t they nice? They—together with the other three pairs of boots I bought this winter—are the one light in my life right now. Excel would be a light in my life but for the fact that it was being very naughty this week when I was trying to create some graphs. Things are still not 100% between us. It happens.

Monday, January 3, 2011

All Vows

Hello! Happy January! Do you know January means? January means that it is time for me to start obsessing about what I am going to do for Pesach.

Perhaps you are confused. Perhaps you are saying to yourself “what is Pesach?” “Pesach” is Passover, otherwise known as the time we Jews all go stark raving mad and eat crackers for a week. Or perhaps you are saying to yourself “Nu, I know what Pesach is! And that Pesach is MONTHS away!” Well, yes! Exactly! I have to escape. And to escape I have to buy a ticket. And given that approximately 70% of the country chooses to observe Pesach by fleeing from the country (an act which actually has more in common with our ancestors' flight from Egypt than does sitting on our asses and eating massive amounts of food…but I digress), I have to figure out where the hell I am fleeing to and I have to buy my ticket right now. Because otherwise the only tickets left will be for places like Egypt. And as wonderfully ironic as that destination might be, if local crazies denouncing and attacking one another over religious and racial differences is what I am looking for, I really do not need to travel.

But travel I must because I have to escape. I have to escape because I took an oath to do so last summer, as part of a dating seminar. I took an oath because the seminar people made me. As part of the seminar, in addition to having to close our eyes and listen to happy clappy mantras accompanied by a guitar, we were also required to set a deadline, as in: I will be engaged by XYZ date. My XYZ date was Pesach. I chose Pesach because:

  1. they made me choose a date—they really and truly would not take no for an answer;
  2. at that time Pesach was sufficiently far away that my expecting that engagement could happen was more or less credible and
  3. I absolutely loathe Pesach and thought that getting engaged might make the holiday slightly less odious.
But at the same time, as my friends pointed out, what if I got engaged and/or married some asshole JUST in order to meet that deadline? Now, I know I am going to come across as a snarky and bitter spinster here. But, for fuck's sake--I have made it to 40 without doing anything quite so stupid and deranged as getting married just to meet an arbitrary societal or personal deadline. Is this really a risk factor? But, whatever. To defend myself and the holiday from any potential debilitating weakness of character, I set up two parallel goals. The goals look like this:



(See? Beautifully parallel, no? I did this in excel. Isn’t excel great? I adore excel.)

Anyway, so, here we are, four months before Pesach and I am not dating. This makes the chances that I am going to be engaged by Pesach rather low. So I thought “well, sign up for the Two Oceans Half Marathon and book your ticket for South Africa”. But then I thought “But Gila, you are already registered for the Jerusalem Half Marathon. Do you really want to do another marathon?” And the answer is “well, no, not really". So now I have to find something else to do.

Decisions, decisions....