Friday, December 29, 2006
Thursday, December 28, 2006
The New York Times has a great interactive Year in Photos worth checking out. Go to the link and scroll down to the 2006 Year in Photos. Featured prominently is last summer's Israel-Lebanon war. Decide for yourself.
The Reuters 2006 re-cap has quotes, including this one pertinent to my current venue of choice:
I am officially announcing that Iran has joined the group of those countries which have nuclear technology. Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, April 11.
The Reuters site also has images. Great ones in Cuba and Iran of Fidel Castro and the above mentioned prez shot by stringers and a fab one of Shaquille O'Neal by Hans Derek.
My favorite-a-licious girl nasties at Go Fug Yourself haven't put together a comprehensive 2006 re-cap but their description of dragging themselves from "brandy soaked nog-comas" is worth the trek.
I leave this entry with ruminations.
Recently I filed a story on Rwandans in Israel. The work spurred me to read and check out the film Sometimes in April to learn more about the 1994 genocide because my strongest memory of the period was a colleague's stories upon returning from the carnage. Until Rwanda, he had thought he was a hot sh*t, conquer the world journalist. He came back shell shocked. And almost every journalist I've talked to or read has noted that of all the war zones they've covered - Sarajevo, Mogadishu, Lebanon, etc - Rwanda was the absolute worst.
The same is happening in Darfur, Sudan. Now. There are a gazillion ways to help out and get involved from letter writing to petitioning to donating cash to donating time and talents. Worth thinking about.
Over and out
Sunday, December 24, 2006
This here link takes you to my article in today's San Francisco Chronicle.
Mwahaahaahaahaa..I am simply Shameless in my self promotion. Hee hee. Blush Blush. As usual.
After you read the article with great rapture and you have finished reflecting...
Wish yourself and your family A Merry Merry Christmalicious (if it's your thang).
My 5-year-old is running around our Tel Aviv flat singing: "We Wish you a Merry Christmas"...Where in tarnation did he get that tune in the Holy Land Central vacuum of virtual non-existent Christmas cheer?
On Cartoon Network dot com. Go on over. You'll see what I mean when you watch the front page video which shows, by the way, that Joe Barbera - creator of The Flintstones, Tom & Jerry, Scooby Doo, etc. - has passed. What a legend.
Enjoy, mes petits choux...
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Friday, December 22, 2006
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Monday, December 18, 2006
Thursday, December 14, 2006
The first time was years ago while working as a television producer covering the aftermath of a suicide bombing. A camera crew and I went to a man's house to interview him. He and his wife had recently married and his adoption of her children had just finalized. We showed up a few hours prior to her funeral. His first wife had also been killed by a terrororist.
The man was in shock and I could not bring myself to ask him anything. I sat in silence. Realizing I was at a loss, my colleague the cameraman stepped in with questions in my stead.
After all, there really is nothing you can ask someone in that situation.
Yesterday I sat with a group of Rwandan survivors of the 1994 genocide who are currently in Israel. One, Jean-Pierre, agreed to tell his story.
Speaking quietly through a Kinya-Rwandan translator, he described hiding in bushes and watching Hutu militia men machete family members and toss grenades into surrounding bushes where other children were hiding. I lowered my head, gulped backed tears and pinched myself into not crying. Jean-Pierre lost both parents and four siblings.
When he finished telling his story, I said "thank you very much" with warmth that felt hollow. Thanks for sharing your personal hell. How odd, when you think of it.
During a college internship at a local news station in the U.S., an anchor once shared in confidence that whenever he was sent out to interview surviving family members, he would sit in the car outside the house, phone the executive producer and relay: "Nobody's home".
Monday, December 11, 2006
For those not up to playing "follow the link", it's a piece about three boys - aged 6-9 - who were gunned down in Gaza City today as they prepared to go from car to school. It was a "send a message killing". The boys were all sons of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' chief intelligence aide. Abbas/aide are members of the moderate Fatah faction. Gee, I wonder what faction could have been behind the murders?
It is mind boggling. It is wrong. And so overwhelming it hurts to contemplate.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Sunday, December 03, 2006
In Japanese, the word for 10 is: Ju (pronounced just as you think it is)
In Japanese, the word for 10,000 is: Ichiman (pronounced like Scratchy's partner)
In Japanese, the word for 100,000 is: Juman (same as the first Jew)
What if the three got together? Would Ju be lesser than Juman because he doesn't have "man" attached to his name? And would Ichiman be envious of Juman because he is "itching" to be 100 rather than 10 thousand?
And like I didn't even need any mind altering substances to come up with all of this so it's probably time to get myself off to bed. But not before sharing one last tidbit:
In Japanese, the word for the "9th of the month" is: Kokonoka
The person who came up with that one was an ad exec who got confused between the fruity cocktail campaign and the Japanese government's numerical charts bid
Saturday, December 02, 2006
BARGAIN! SAVE 745 shekels on new Ikea sofa !!!!!
Posted by: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fri Dec 1, 2006 4:03 am (PST)
Brand new unused Ikea sofa (model name BACKA - not in catalog yet)-
too big for my new retirement home room.
Will take loss in order to sell quickly. Ikea price 1995sh; selling
for 1250. Do not reply by email.
Phone for more details XXXXXXXXXXX
Thursday, November 30, 2006
A word about Jerusalem: Who needs a European vacation? I can head on out of Tel Aviv and mosey on up to J-Town when I'm feeling a bit antsy and Voila! I've tarried galaxies afar. The two cities differ radically in style of dress, mannerisms, lay of the land and religious inclinations.
First: It's probably reasonably safe to assert that NO fashion statements will be surging out of the Holy City anytime soon. While the ultra-orthodox have some semblance of coolness with black and white color motifs, what can you expect from a city whose key historical figures ran around in hooded gunny sacks and beige flats?
Second: Hills, views, Jerusalem stone, olive trees...We have the beach but they've got architectural & historical candy.
Third: People speak Yiddish. Young people. Who are ultra-orthodox. Because they consider Hebrew to be a holy language not to be soiled by the mere trifle of common, everyday conversation. It was a shocker hearing someone behind me speak it today. I thought it was German for a few seconds.
Finally: Meeting up with religion is surprising in itself because Tel Aviv is soooo secular. Yeah I know, it sounds crazy coming from Holy Land Central and all. But trust me on this one: When in Jerusalem the sudden exposure to religious majority can be overwhelming and eye-opening.
Good to know I don't have to go far to keep things fresh
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
That's the current state of affairs here in Holy Land Central (HLC).
No flights, boats, trains, mail, post offices, customs or tax authority, no passports, driver's licenses, courts or city hall.
Talks are underway to solve what purportedly cost the country NIS 350 million ($82 mill. U.S.) on day one of what may be a several day strike.
I know that as an enterprising, cash-fat aspiring person I should be holding this sort of mass action in disdain. But there's something about shutting down airports...it's very powerful.
The ONLY time I recall that happening in the U.S. was on 9/11. That or if snow or wind got too dicey for incoming and outgoing aircraft.
I would like to get my mail and I do have some business to tend to within a government office or two..but what to do?
A visiting friend from Azerbaijan was a bit put off by it all saying that in her country this sort of thing would never happen. In fact, she exclaimed, she has never experienced this sort of thing before. She has clearly never been to France.
"In Azerbaijan the government would either fire the strikers or throw half of them in jail to teach them a lesson," she exclaimed this afternoon. I'd like to see THAT go down in Israel or France.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Except over here in Holy Land Central (HLC) there's none of that Americana style build-up, commercialization and shop-till-you drop spirit. We Jewish tribal types, in fact, are only marginally - if at all - aware of Yule; It isn't celebrated, for the most part, this side of the green line. In Bethlehem, parts of Jerusalem and the West Bank, yes. Not Tel Aviv.
Nonetheless, I am taking this opportunity to present Stefanella's 2006 Holiday Season Wish List. Why not? As my Buddhist friends say: You have to put it out there for the karma to find you. More simply phrased: If you don't let Santa know, how's he gonna drop it off at your house?
1. Expendable Income - I don't want to stand in the supermarket aisle comparing nutritional value versus cost versus how far a food item can be stretched. In fact, I don't want to think about budgeting at all. I want extra cash. I want to find 100 shekel notes in my jean pockets and casually remark: "Oh that's nice" rather than fretting that such a find might induce a coronary.
2. Day Spa - Sue me for my trespasses. I'm allowed the occasional shee-shee girlish whim. I want to wallow in a jacuzzi and sauna, doze off to the tones of New Age chimes while melting under the nimble kneading of a deep tissue masseur, get a peel and facial and drink freshly churned carrot juice while lounging in a white robe and scanning the latest copy of Vanity Fair.
3. Subscription to Vanity Fair -....come to think of it.
4. Indulge my Offspring - I want to take my son on an elephant ride in India and on African Safari. I want to encourage his artistic slant with visits to the Louvre and the finest oils, ceramics and private lessons money can purchase. I want to be able to say "yes" more often to his requests for toys. I want him to have a carefree life.
5. Teach my Offspring - I want my son to learn that giving back through volunteerism and donation is a responsibility and an honor. That each person can make a difference. That we're all here for a purpose and once you figure yours out, you're in.
6. More Fun - Less thinking, more action. More visiting with friends, less worrying about time constraints and work. More outings, less work. More cultural exposure, less worry over finances.
7. A Thigh-High Pair of Spike-Heeled Boots - to wear around the house with my pretend mini-skirt while singing "..that's just what they'll do. One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over..."
8. Chocolate Truffles and Creme Brulee for the Masses - Well I had to end on a positive note, no?
Sunday, November 26, 2006
He's still on the loose; I've noticed that my women brethren (sic) are feeling discomfort, to put it mildly.
Funny (ha ha) what this type incident brings out in us.
I've never been raped. I've had a flasher or two or three show off personal jewels but no incident was shocking enough to push me towards the psycho-analytical couch. All of a sudden I'm thinking about a violent, angry man on the loose and what could potentially happen to myself, my son, myself in the presence of my son or another woman with children.
I'm cautious, studying faces for signs of the escaped rapist's features, questioning neighbors about the "strange guy" loitering suspiciously outside the apartment building, nervous, wanting this menace to either split the country for a remote planet or be re-captured.
And I'm not alone. Women are talking about him, blogging about him, dropping his name casually in conversation. We're double checking locked doors, looking over shoulders, asking drop-offs to wait until we get inside the house. My 14-year-old babysitter had her father pick her up instead of hailing the usual taxi home. We're all frightened regardless of rationale or reason that tells us this psychopath is probably long gone.
The craziest part? When you break it down to the basic components it's about body parts. This man uses a body part to violate others. Violently, in a frightening manner. It's taboo. And I can't help but wonder what in the hell happened to him.
The burn of it? Although we may have arrived and fancy ourselves living in the modernity of 21st century reality, this is a dividing point where we women remain vulnerable regardless. And people like this rapist know it.
SHIT I hope they catch him soon. For all of us.
Friday, November 24, 2006
Eat a leisurely breakfast and with kindergarten-skipping Raphael in tow - He's allowed; it's his fifth birthday today, OMG! - stroll downstairs to find half a dozen police officers combing the neighborhood accompanied by aforementioned buzzing helicopters.
I hesitate. My first thought: A suicide bomber is loose in Tel Aviv; They have word and they're searching.
"Is someone loose in the area?" (duh) I ask an officer outside our building. He shakes his head no. Liar. As if the foot patrol is simply getting out and about as part of the new "Get Fit Forces!" physical regime aimed at getting Tel Aviv's police corps in shape. Our neighborhood happens to be THE perfect alternative to hiking trails and the helicopters help maintain that tough guy cover while they sweat it out.
That was 9:30.
Six hours later the copters are still circling. NOW I've found the story online and discover that lo and behold, it's neither fitness or a bomber they're after. Rather a mere serial rapist who escaped police escort while being transported between courthouse hearings. Our apartment is awfully close to the courthouse. Separated by a park, in fact. The same one I suspect Monsieur Rapist cut across to dodge his chaperones.
Let me see...Bomber versus Rapist...How comforting.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
The child blogger, a skateboard enthusiast, muses over his board fashioned of scrap metal left over from Quassam rockets. He also comments on the quick getaway it provides when fleeing "long ones" although, he says, everyone knows there's nowhere to hide.
The writing is a disturbing mix of child norms - attempting skateboarder tricks, idolizing and obsessing over heroes - and the realities of war - classmates' deaths caused by "long one" hits -that no child should endure.
When writing about attempting to get onto university computers for updates vis a vis the skateboarding world at large, he notes:
I have learned that during times like this when there is nothing to eat and people are dying all the time, it is preferable not even to try because there will always be someone who will get angry at me.
Before Suleiman died, he would say that this is one of the crazy things about living in Gaza: The angrier they get about children that are killed, the worse they behave towards children who are alive.
Go read. It's a reality check.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Don't worry, U.S. and Western countries you'll get there. It's a matter of time.
But what you won't get at your checkpoints is a certain, oh let's just call it Flair, commonly encountered oer' here yonder in Holy Land Central (HLC). Maybe you'd encounter it in Latin America or Italy or anywhere else I can think to stereotype.
Scene: Entrance to The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
Dialogue: Moi-Self and Security Guard
Mr. Security: Are you married?
Moi-Self: Why are you asking?
Mr. Security: Because I think you're beautiful.
Moi-Self: Thanks. But yes, I am spoken for**
Mr. Security: Can I check your bag anyway?
Moi-Self: Gee, I'm not sure how to answer
**little white lies sometimes serve the moment
Flattering? Yes. Appropriate? Not really. Do I care? No.
Welcome. Have a Nice Day
Monday, November 20, 2006
Years ago I took a course right here in the Med. And nearly dropped out because before getting anywhere near the sexy James Bond stage of tanks, weight belts and clinging wetsuits, the seemingly simple task of removing one's dive mask while underwater must be performed.
Sounds simple but for moi-self it presented a tremendous stumbling block because we humans instinctively draw in a breath through the nose when our masks are removed while down below.
My instructor at the time told me to cut the sh*t out when I said I was quitting. All my diving mates seemed to effortlessly pull off the mask removal bit but I was the loser and I wanted to cut my losses and get out. Mr. Instructor said "no way" and sent me home to practice in the bathtub with a borrowed mask and snorkel.
So I practiced. And practiced. And practiced. And inhaled liters of water and felt an idiot in the bathtub or in the sea when I tried it out in public.
HOWEVER, I triumphed and continued with the course and got over the fear of mask removal AND was one of three classmates - out of ten - to successfully complete the entire course.
Japanese classes at the moment suck: I'm lost and absolutely THE straggler lagging behind.
So much for family/friends' compliments throughout the years: "You have an ear for languages." No. The young and slick uniformed military guy who shows up each week without having done homework and effortlessly spills forth perfectly formed Kanji sentences has an ear. The girl earning her PhD in computerized education methods and studying Japanese because she had a good time in Tokyo is talented.
I'm sitting there hoping that if I practice in the bathtub enough, I'll be able to form a sentence without wearing a mask.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Today I will be forthcoming for a change. It's the beginning of a new week.
On Friday Tel Aviv's municipality decided to put together a cultural event I describe as: "Sherwood Forest meets the Middle East". Lining Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Boulevard were fairy-tale themed stations such as Robin Hood's tree cutting post, the wicked witch cave, Friar Tuck's wooden bridge, Maid Marian's magic dust den, etc.
Actor types dressed in Sherwood Forest regalia roamed while static gnomes, fairies, and princesses decked out in flowing robes with faces a-glitter, perched frozen atop skillfully concealed stilts.
There was avante garde street theater on a par with New York - I kid not - and where the forest ended, a display of locally created functional design works began. Some of that was pretty slick including hanging lamps crafted from plastic soda containers, a coat rack made of bicycle training wheels and a one-man pup tent created for the world's growing numbers of homeless. How they might afford to purchase the tent is another question.
Unfortunately I left my camera at home so I'm unable to share visuals. But put on your Robin Hood feathered caps and play the imaginary game for a moment and I'll bet you can conjure some images. Way to go, municipal powers that be. An afternoon well spent.
Friday, November 17, 2006
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Playing catch up, as people tend to do, I sifted through names of former colleagues and he responded with updates on the where/what they're doing these days/whether they're still in television or not lowdown response to my queries.
When I mentioned a specific Palestinian co-worker/friend from days of yore, I was shocked to learn this person had been barred from entering Israel proper after the 2000 Ramallah lynching.
According to my coffee friend, he and an entire network of West Bank cameramen and journalists were accused of colluding to keep footage of the lynching under wraps so as not to incriminate West Bank residents who took part in the incident.
I am speechless for the moment. And of course I realize there are two sides to any story. And thank god I wasn't here because...well let's just leave it at that.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
QUOTE OF THE DAY FROM THE NY TIMES:
"It's not that we 'could be' the weaker sex - we are the weaker sex. Even when men and women have the same disease, we often find that men are more likely to die."
DR. ROBERT TAN, geriatrics specialist in Houston
Scene: Box office
Background: Attempting to purchase Tickets to Magic Flute Childrens' Opera Event
Oh sorry, we don't have change for a hundred shekels (approximately $25 U.S.)
You can either pay with a credit card or come back another time
Okay I'm starting to get a little bit angry here. I don't want to come back and I don't want to use a card. I want to get the tickets now with cash. That's why I'm here. You're a bleeding box office! You don't have change?
Would you like us to go get change at the coffee shop?
OMG!!! Breathe in. Breathe out.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Nothing like endearing oneself to the Democrats who now wield power. And nothing to say of the miserable soldiers on the ground in Iraq who want the hell out.
And maybe I missed something in the small print but how does...
- Ahmadinejad's nuclear threat
- daily bombing and anarchy in Iraq
- Extreme poverty, infighting among political factions and routine rocket hits from Gaza
- the summer war in Lebanon
....add up to regional stability?
Silly me. I failed to notice the good will and calm. Group hug.
Monday, November 13, 2006
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Enter...JAPANESE! Yup, time to learn a new language and not just any language, mind you. If it seems odd to be studying Japanese in these parts, check out this clip from my friend Nominally Challenged's site. Now that'll set your brain a'pondering.
Why Japanese? Friends have asked.
I think it's a good language for the future and business and yes Cantonese may have been a wiser choice but of all the Asian cultures I was exposed to in San Francisco - the city demographic is nearly 50% Asian - Japanese appealed to me most.
I'll let you know how it goes...
Sayonara (what a geek)
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Columnist and father of five covering the UN Conference on Desertification, The Negev Desert Israel
No, I didn't bring my swimsuit. I'll go into the hotel pool with workout shorts and a tee-shirt. What do I care? I'm from New York
Journalist covering UN Conference on Desertification, the Negev Desert Israel
No, sweetheart. No ice cream today.
But Mom, ice cream is your most favorite thing!
Five year old Raphael attempting to sway
Do you want that with non-fat milk?
You are NEVER allowed to ask a client that question. That's right up there with "are you pregnant?"
Conversation with barrista, Tel Aviv cafe.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
They: a man and woman in their 50's-ish. He: American. She: Israeli. He: Complaining about work and quality ethic in Israel. She: Listening attentively.
My butt-in was to ask how long he has been in Holy Land Central (HLC), how he deals with the frustrations and to share my fresh from the oven refrigerator story.
From upstate New York, he's been here six years. How he deals:
I use the F*ck You method. Say I'm swimming laps at the pool and I collide with another swimmer. Even if they're in the wrong, they'll begin hurling accusations immediately. Always on the offensive. So I've learned that instead of waiting for the assault, I immediately yell: "F*ck You!" at the other person. Back home I'd be booted from the pool or someone would call security or something. Here, it gets a dialogue going.
This guy, incidentally, is a therapist. That's my kind of Jungian theory!
One more share from Mr. F. You:
When asked why he's here, he pointed to his companion. And added:
But if heaven forbid she goes before me, it's straight from the cemetery to the airport.
Nothing like letting it all hang out, eh?
They've invited me 'round for dinner. I'm expecting a lot of laughs.
Friday, November 03, 2006
A share from the depths of moving Hell:
Purchased a fridge and washing machine from a discount warehouse chain store (Machsanei Chashmal for the locals) and upon delivery the two transporters:
1) arrived three hours late without apology - at 10 p.m., I exaggerate not
2) dropped the washing machine while mounting the stairs
3) took my utility room door off the hinges to move washing machine in and neglected to re hinge
4) announced it would cost an extra $40 to fit the fridge through the kitchen entrance - they would have to remove fridge doors
I threw a fit, ranted, raved (as is my style) refusing to pay a surplus charge. I demanded they bring it through for free in lieu of their late arrival. They refused. Their boss threatened to come to my apartment and...(?) I told them to take it all back to the warehouse. They left the washer.
The next day my rant continued over the phone. The company people backed their movers and put the blame on me. "Why didn't you refuse the washer? Why didn't you call and cancel when you saw they were running late?" etc. Typical. Typical. Typical. Offense as a defense.
Of course they would take that attitude. The place has a no refund/no return policy. I'm such a dork for not seeing that teensy weensy clause. Nor did I see the other clause stipulating an add-on fee for removing doors to install over sized items.
I asked them to re-deliver the fridge and leave it in my apartment entrance. A friend would come and help me - no surplus charge.
They delivered, departed and I stood contemplating the fridge. And gained instant wisdom. Using my Phillips I removed a jutting grill and then gingerly wheeled it through the kitchen door without removing doors, unhinging or paying add-no fees. It took two minutes. Bloody liar thieves.
Unbelievable, you say? Typical for what I refer to as the "old school", mobbed up type businesses here that operate as if they're in the shuk. The newer, younger companies - phone and mobile upstarts competing with the old school cobwebs - are diligent and service oriented.
My father asks why I stay. I have asked myself the same during this move and believe you me, when he suggested I move back and leave this hassle it was tempting as hell. In the face of adversity it's always an option.
I guess I stay because of recall. Life is difficult and messy and problematic. But I have recall here. I vividly remember what happens each day because of the vibrancy and hue of the mess. I am alive and living life in a very full way.
Does this mean I need hassle and struggle to feel alive? A question for the couch
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
The sheer number of people who helped us get here - from my lawyer cousin Peggy who advised when trouble started with the ex-landlord (which is how this mess began) to lawyer friends Revital, Eli and Maital who looked over potential apartment contracts so's I wouldn't get myself into another contractual mess to countless others who listened, offered leads & soup (you know who you are, Big D), to my parents and siblings to the friendly people in blogoland who supported via the comments section when the doo doo was really hitting the fan...It definitely takes a village and anyone who says different is neglecting his/her village.
A wee share before I run out to scout refrigerators and coffee machines: My friend R who shall remain anonymous called to ask if I think she should attend the Chicago University MBA Meet & Greet Night in Tel Aviv. This was very surprising to moi.
"You're thinking of getting an MBA in the States?"I asked.
Of course not, darling. I want to pull men.
Ahhh...life back to normal...
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Reading an anticipated e-mail, I learned that work I had counted on/really hoped for fell through.
At the instant of realization, I found myself simultaneously doing and feeling an assortment of things. I couldn't sit still. I went to the kitchen for a glass of tea. Made coffee while sipping tea. Looked at the fridge contents to discern if there might be something I could either consume or prepare. Closed the fridge door. Frustration.
I wanted to cry. I panicked. "Who can I call? Mom? A friend? A cousin?" They've had their fill. No burdening.
I polarized to the opposite end of the spectrum. Lethargy. Craving the warmth of bed, burrowing & blocking it all out beneath blankets. But the house move is tomorrow. No such luxury possible (it never is). Return to mania. Get out of the house. Maybe do laundry. Take a walk. Ride the bike.
As I stood, paced and went through the emotional range, I watched myself from a detached somewhere else. And the knowledge that I've visited this funky fear place in the past slowly dawned as did the reckoning: "Look Ma. I'm still in one piece!"
And so it was that I came to understand - but REALLY understand beyond the conceptual - what Ms. Genevieve Howe, therapist, professor and director of a therapeutic institute in San Francisco, described as "Standing on the Edge of the Unknown" in a course she taught on Anger & Conflict/Love, Passion & Obsession.
Genevieve lectured on the human potential for building thresholds that render us capable of staying with and riding through uncomfortable and stressful feelings instead of turning to addiction or blocking. According to Ms. Howe, the more frequently we sit there, the better at sitting we become. And IF we learn to direct the distraction towards creative passion or endeavor, we reach an ever higher level still. Sort of like Beethoven or Picasso or Thomas Edison.
I don't paint or compose or invent scientific "stuff"...But I make a very good Thai Coconut-Lemon Grass soup.
That's Philosophy Sunday for you...Amen.
Friday, October 27, 2006
Thursday, October 26, 2006
There's a healthy dose of mistrust in these parts surrounding money/business matters for very legitimate reasons. It may be holy terrain but corruption-free it ain't. Ask the politicians - they'll vouch (off the record only, of course).
Imagine my alarm yesterday when trying to withdraw funds from an ATM machine only to be repeatedly denied with a flashing warning message that I had exceeded my daily limit. Yet I hadn't taken any cash out that day. The card, incidentally, is linked to a foreign account.
So I get home and gingerly ring up the bank linked to the card to ascertain the reason for denial. And find out that the first ATM machine which denied my attempt also registered the try as the Real McCoy. In other words, the Israeli bank is saying I received cash when I didn't.
Now it's up to the other side to investigate and I can just imagine the scenario: "She got it. We are sure. No doubt. We saw her. I personally saw her. I happened to be watching the ATM machine through the window just then. Promise. Really." Mama mia.
When I went into a different bank today and offered the story in passing, the listening clerk smiled knowingly. Christ! (no offense to Christian contingencies. But wait one minute. Didn't JC go after the money changers?)
I need this right now like I need ...*sigh*
Just another calm day in HLC. Peace Out.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
One FINAL share - something I forgot to offer up prior: Going to see a place, the building elevator suddenly jolted to a halt between floors. (Luckily, young Rapha wasn't with me) I was terrified. Oh my god I'm stuck in an elevator and it's going to fall! This is how I'm going to die!! I rang the alarm. Nada. An excruciating half minute later, the lift began moving again.
Upon sharing the info with the current tenant: Oh yeah he says in blase mode. I should've said something about that. If you get too close to the door it stops and won't move again unless you move away from the sensors.
Anyhow... Rapha approves of the new place and favors his new downsized room. He had to contain his joy upon seeing the adjacent park.
Now up to eyeballs in boxes and deciding what goes with and what gets sold. Anyone need a bright blue, child's clothing cabinet? My stuff simply won't fit into the new place. I'm very much a non-chatchke person so minimalism here we come.
To the supporters and bearers of kind wishes: Mucho gracias
To the Tel Aviv housing market: Le'Azazel!!
To onward and upward: I'll drink to that
Cheers & beers. Moving day is on the horizon
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
I'm calling about the refrigerator you advertised. Can you tell me what it looks like?
You know what happens to you after you get married? You die.
5-year-old Raphael to his female friend Max
I have a really hard time with Israelis. I can barely tolerate them
Excuse my asking but aren't YOU Israeli?
Yeah but that's different
Monday, October 23, 2006
It's over-priced and much smaller than I prefer but it is well taken care of, gets lots of light, is an upgrade neighborhood-wise - near Tel Aviv's Opera House overlooking a sprawling park as opposed to our current heavily trafficked main thoroughfare - and ... we were running out of time, weren't we?
I am exhausted, spent and over-baked. To describe the past month's search mission as unpleasant is like saying emphysema is just a wee cough.
I still don't get it. This is not Manhattan. Or Paris. Or London. So WTF? And I don't buy the whole "the French moved in and snapped up all the property creating huge demand" blather, either.
I must've seen at least 50 apartments. I regret not grabbing one in particular but I wasn't savvy enough or ready.
The others? Well it has been an experience in learning to negotiate and let go, knowing when to bend and when to hang up the phone, when I should plead my case, change my visions and ideas and mostly about learning to compromise. It has also been a window into a nasty market filled with some pretty skanky, unpleasant characters. Others are gracious, forthcoming and surprisingly pleasant - but they are the minority.
A few precious tidbits which, when I've simmered down, will make for humorous dinner table shares:
Current tenant showing apartment: You know that part of the deal is buying the air conditioning unit from me for $800.
Moi: But I don't need it. And I don't want it. And I don't have the cash flow to tie up in an air conditioner. But I definitely want the apartment. It isn't new. $800? How'd you come up with that price?
Tenant: It's what I want for it and that's the deal. Take it or you don't get the landlord's number. It's all about cash flow. You should remember that.
**it took every iota of self control not to ring up this guy and tell him I was rooting for the ass wallopers who will inevitably trounce him in London when he relocates there next month.
Landlord over the phone: Who's the place for?
Moi: Myself and my son
Landlord: Oh no. Too big. I mean what are you going to do with all that space? A bigger family with more kids should live in the unit.
Moi: How many kids does it take to fill up a 2-bedroom apartment? Wait. I can't believe I'm having this conversation. What do you care what my space preferences are?
Owner: We want an $8000 U.S. cash deposit plus 2 guarantors plus a bank guarantee plus one year's rent in advance
Owner: We'll fix the holes in the ceiling. The broken window? No worries. Taken care of. Sure sure sure. Just sign here.
*sigh* I'm glad it's (almost) over.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Friday, October 20, 2006
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Allow me to be the first to welcome Mr. Spielberg to the Tel Aviv housing market. The same shark pit I have been slogging through for the past 2.5 weeks.
Of course, Steve (do you mind if I call you Steve?) , you won't have to deal. The sharks will bring the pit to you.
So on that note, allow me to be the first to thank the Big S for further increasing property values in an already inflated market. The so-called Soho - more like Queens on a sunny day - will get the boost of its lifetime. And we mere clownfish will be left facing ever more sharks.
(Yes, it IS all about me)
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
We people are peculiar. And our peculiarities are based, to a great degree, upon fear.
Holy Land Central (HLC) being much much (much much much much) less politically correct than the U.S. of A., people will actually list what they don't want in tenants. When you ask for explainers on the specifications, the roots of prejudice are quickly revealed.
- Couples only/No roommates. Reason: Roommates split, one is left holding up both ends, floundering follows and vacating ensues. Has this landlord heard of divorce?
- Married Couples Only - Reason: More stable. Has this landlord heard of divorce? Or heated arguments at 3 a.m.?
- No Children - Reason: Too messy, too loud, will wreak havoc. And what of the twin, toy terriers running amok, spraying urine and eating the walls?
- Families Only - Reason: More stable. Heard of the family that moved into a flat, changed the locks and flaked on rent for two years because the law allows parents with children to stay put?
- Guarantors Must Show Pay Stubs - Reason: Proves a steady, reliable income. Ever hear of offshore accounts, offshore investments and foreign income?
Wish me luck as I forge. Time is running out. AHHHHHH!!!!
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
I'm sleeping in patches; To bed at around 9-10 p.m., awake at 2 a.m., back to sleep at 6 awake at 7. Psychosis induced.
Were it a dwelling for myself alone..but alas, I'm on my own these days as a single mom and I've a child to consider. I'll blog it some other time. Too tired for that type of "true confession" right now.
HOWEVER, today was a day of hope. Not because a deluxe penthouse apartment overlooking the Mediterranean glimmers on the horizon.
Because I spent the day with someone I'm writing an article about who instills Hope. Tons of it.
She's a powerhouse: millionaire business tycoon, celebrity both in Israel and abroad, chairwoman of numerous international charitable organizations, hostess of a popular prime time television show..And yet she lacks ego (for the most part). I mean, she bloody offered to share her salad with me. And get me something to drink. Not send her assistant. As in: "I'll go get you a soda"...
Amazing. And get this: She worried that she's not doing enough to make the world a better place. Sheesh. I shoulda told her: You're right. But find me an apartment and you will be redeemed!
Now THERE's ego. wink wink
Monday, October 16, 2006
During one of her sessions the therapist actually answered the cellphone(s). She had not one cellphone but two. Which rang not once but twice.
Call #1: "Yes dear, I'll be home in an hour. Stop hitting your brother."
Call #2: "No, I said the frozen x-tra cheese pizza. Not the hot dogs. It's back behind the ice cream"
My friend chose not to return.
The socialized medicine system then referred her to someone else.
Who was deaf.
But he could lip read bilingually in English and Hebrew.
And at least he didn't answer cellphones.
And I'M the crazy one??? my friend mused.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Friday, October 13, 2006
Life is a bucket full of sh*t; Duck your head or you'll get hit. Fa la la la la la la la la la.
(Had my parents known what we were REALLY learning in summer camp each season...)
If so, then it's time for some good old fashioned leisure. Follow this link and give it a whirl. You'll be addicted in no time t'all..
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Living in San Francisco one develops a keen understanding of these matters: differentiating between the street dwelling newbies, old hands and "this person doesn't belong here" types becomes second nature.
My heart screamed and I stifled a cry of despair as he continued to pick unaware of my presence.
In San Fran or New York or Paris, okay.
But in my idealized memory of Holy Land Central (HLC) and its social system to protect all, this image of a young man wearing high tops, Bermudas and a preppy short sleeved shirt while sifting through garbage didn't gel. He was indicative of a larger looming issue here in HLC.
I recently supped with an old friend who bemoaned the country's poverty levels. He cited demographics and figures shocking to a city dweller such as myself who rarely travels to the peripheries. 5-person families living on the equivalent of $900 U.S. per month. Soup Kitchens. Hunger.
I noticed the pre-holiday food drives were a bit more driven than last year.
What's up, war withstanding?
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Monday, October 09, 2006
Sunday, October 08, 2006
The checkout person at the supermarket thinks we have a houseful of cats!
But the only cat sounds you'll hear at our house are purrs of joy—over all the things kitty litter does for us!
This absorbent, kiln-dried clay has many surprising uses, because it's a peerless sucker-upper of oil, grease and odors—and a powerhouse disinfectant. (It has to be to deal with kitty waste.)
That's why it's the cat's meow to...
Prevent mildew in bathrooms and elsewhere (Page 172).
Deodorize smelly shoes (132) or a smelly hamper (115).
Remove cigarette smells from furniture (27).
Give your car traction when it's stuck in snow (266).
Soak up oil and grease stains on driveways and garage floors (273).
De-ice sidewalks, patios and driveways. Better than rock salt (198)!
Remove moisture and musty smells from closets (191).
Friday, October 06, 2006
Thursday, October 05, 2006
I looked at four places yesterday. And four the day before. And four the day before that day. Street names, telephone numbers and contacts are beginning to melt together as I bike, run, walk and bus around the city like mad. Some places are hot. Others are over-priced dreck.
Wasn't there just a wee war here over the summer? And don't those types of events generally drive housing rates towards the lower end of the scale?
Oh right but also over the summer hordes of French Jewish nationals fled to Holy Land Central (HLC) looking to escape religious persecution (or so the rumor goes). They bought property with "kicks the shekel's derriere any day" Euros, drove availability into scarcity and sent market rates sailing.
During the dot-com boom we used to half-joke: Can't there be a small earthquake? No one gets hurt or killed but like maybe 4-5 on the Richter so that it does enough damage to scare away the opportunists ..??
You know where I'm going on this one. Wink wink.