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!


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?