Wednesday, September 29, 2004

and one more thing....

how come that I have managed to stay single and still become my mother?

this morning I tidied and cleaned my apt - because the cleaning lady was coming.

for my next trick I will place random yet personally valuable items collected from around the apt at the bottom of the stairs and tell my flatmate that if they're there by the time I get home from work they're going in the dustbin.


i told you i'd be back

telling it how it is

just come back from pre-chag party on the rooftops of Jerusalem. it was a regular jerusalem shindig -- nice breeze, ok music and police arriving on the dot at 12.30 because thats the one time police ever respond seriously to a complaint in this country. yes it was about average in everyway including the regular gender party ratio -- approx 70% women, 30% men.

dont worry i'm not going to spend my time moaning the well-rehearsed complaint of quantity imbalance compounded by dearth of quality. but rather i'm just going to tell you how it is:
- it's sad
- it's unfair
- it's confusing
- it's illogical
- it's disheartening
- it's draining
i know so many wonderful women who are single. and while we prove daily that our lives are multi-faceted and made for far more than just husband-hunting, at the end of the day we shouldnt have to retract our ideologies just to admit we dont want to be alone.

yes yes you can tell us that "marriage isnt simple either/doesnt solve anything" and "that it only takes one" till you're blue in the face but that doesnt negate the fact that it's just wrong that it has to be this way. i see fat, thin, evil, lovely, friendly, ugly, wierd, intelligent women with mates. it makes no sense that they found and others havent. it may only take one but the energy spent looking or being cool by not looking, preferring to be found, trying again and again, erodes into your essence over the years. for an honest share on the topic read noa's recent brave and raw posts.

i'm not crying or feeling depressed as i write this. i'm feeling surprisingly lucid and bright about life. i just feel like i'm stuck in a nightmare quotient screw-up where the authorities have to regrettfully announce that due to faulty calculations life-partners on earth will have to be rationed.

i'm sure within the week i'll be back to using my singledom as comedy material but just for today i'd thought i'd tell it how it is.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

make ’em laugh (and cry) in Berlin – part I

As a good omen for the other resolutions I made this year I’ve finally sat down to share with you one of the real impetuses for getting this blog up – a 3 day visit I made to Berlin this August.

While I traveled essentially for a comedy performance I also had a chance to stay with a friend in the center of Berlin. Both components of the trip had rather profound effects on me so as to give them their fair due I will spread them out over two installments. Here goes with part one…

Stand up in Germany.... how did it all happen?

Two months ago out of the blue I got a phone call from a Sochnut shaliach in Frankfurt asking me to perform stand up comedy at the European Union for Jewish Students’ Summer University. After clarifying that the performance would be in English, that it wasn’t solely for Germans and that my act was only half an hour (1.5 hours is a stretch even for Jerry Seinfeld) we had a deal.

Thus followed a month of excitement (for a trip abroad), relief (that I had news to share at a family event in September that would put them off the “how’s your social life?” line of questioning) and total trepidation (about performing in front of an audience who neither shared my mother tongue or country of residence). To clarify, the “university” (which is really like a summer camp for young adults) is all in English and the majority of the participants speak English far superior to my French, Italian or even Hebrew. That said there's much more to language than vocabulary. It essentially meant that I had to remove all subtle word play, any pop culture references and pokes at the linguistic challenges of the Anglo Saxon aliya experience (laughing about the impossibility of learning the Hebrew language doesn’t quite resonate with an audience who speak an average of 4 languages fluently each!)

I was to appear as part of the Israel experience day within the week long program. Due to the reality of my own Israel experience I had limited days to take off from my “real” job so I left Israel 3am on Thursday morning, arrived in Berlin and performed 11:00 pm that evening. I arrived at the campus just outside Berlin after being driven from Schonefield airport by Eduard a Russian/German driver together with the popular Carlebach band Reva L’Sheva and ALL their equipment. Thanks to a roof rack, a kline yiddush and poor Eduard’s willingness to drive at the embarrassing speed of 80 km/ph (there is no speed limit on the autobahn) we got there in one piece albeit with ear drums slightly challenged by Eduard’s passionate taste for Russian klezmer jazz.

I had about ten hours to observe the audience and really panic about whether I’d pitched my act ok. As part of this I attended one of the sessions - a panel of Israeli and EU representatives chaired by a Swiss girl who told the audience that she was the daughter of an Israeli who’d married out in Switzerland. The discussion was something about relationships between Israel and the EU and while not being the most riveting of sessions it definitely gave me food for thought.

I particularly enjoyed it when one person got up and spoke about Europe being one of the world’s powers and thus potentially highly influential in affecting Israel’s position in the world. Agree or not, I’ve been living in an U.S. obsessed Israel for nearly a decade and working for a very patriotic American organization for the last year – so the mere suggestion that the world could exist without the good old United States was refreshing at the very least.

I was both encouraged by the intelligent and positive attitudes expressed by the participants and disgusted by the typical primitive Israeli response to questions of any caliber – all variations of the wildly out of date "Why don't you come and live in Israel and make the difference?” answer. It especially saddened me to hear that response following a comment from Daniel from Sweden who I later found out had lived in Israel for a number of years. Daniel suggested that Israel should not need to be sold to young Jewish professionals like himself but rather should be aspiring towards quality on all levels (as Sweden apparently) and thus sell itself through attraction not promotion.

I couldn’t agree more. Just think what that would do for Israelis themselves, never mind Jews in the Diaspora, if we could feel part of a state that aspired to be a true “Or La Goyim, light unto the nations” striving towards the highest standards for its citizens rather than relying on Anti-Semitism to spur immigration and security issues as a shield against ever doing any kind of forward planning.

Ho hum…

Well anyway, zipping past the annoying Israelis, after some well deserved catch up sleep and nutrition, the comedy itself went really well. True it started later than planned, the keynote speaker before me stole much of the audience’s attention span and some jokes went down differently than normal but I still managed to keep them pretty entertained for even longer than I thought. Seeing as the overwhelming reason for most people to be at Summer-U in the first place was to find a Jewish partner for life (or at least the night to start with) it was of no surprise that my dating and singles jokes went down spectacularly well. It seems it doesn’t matter if you’ve grown up religious, secular or barely knowing you’re Jewish at all, everyone can identify with picky vertically- challenged Jewish men, the perils of internet love and the Jewish obsession with Russian roulette type matchmaking.

If I was unsure at first (us comic artistes are incredibly self critical), the comments I got from people afterwards made me feel a lot more certain. They really were a nice bunch of people who while being slightly apathetic when it came to workshops partied hard at night including singing bonfire type songs 4:30 in the morning once the DJ had shut up shop. There were people from almost every European country you could name including two guys from Saloniky, Greece (brimming with Olympic pride), nearly 100 Italians and a guy called Ready from Albania. (Yes that was his name. The conversation actually went something like this – “What’s your name?”, “Ready”, “Yes, what is it?” “No that’s it… Ready” “Oh I see, oops”)

Of course I did get negative feedback from one quarter. An Israeli student (who later revealed himself to be a French Oleh of two years… ) took issue with a quip I made about economic difficulties in Israel and its connections to rates of yerida. (It was an improvised play on something Avraham Infield, the keynote speaker had said). He said it was irresponsible of me to suggest that life in Israel was so hard!!! Oh my God… the thought police had done a good job on him!

In his blind-sighted zealousness he failed to see that a) the fact that I still live in Israel ... out of choice… is pretty significant to the overall message and b) in practical terms if the majority of people leave Israel for economic reasons rather than ideological reasons maybe just maybe its something we need to acknowledge! Not sure i convinced him but whatever….

Go fight city hall!

Anyway in short the experience was v good and as far as my development as a comedienne it made me evaluate the kind of stereotypes and assumptions I use in my comedy. How do I, a British Israeli (I'm rude on the outside.... and on the inside) write Jewish humour? It raised new questions for me -- is there really such thing as shared Jewish comedy or is it just an extension of local culture? How comfortable am I with the stereotypes that I perpetuate? Have I got room to make new observations and change these or is the modern Jewish experience too splintered?

Watch this space…

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

which came first?

just taken far too much time trying to change the bloody template on this blog. whatever happened to plain and simple html??? i'm only 3 years out of the internet bubble and i know nothing about a webpage anymore. or maybe now that i work in the real world i just dont have time to play about with these things while in the office..... oh for the days when my responsibility was looking for broken links on the "why i love jesus" guest book.


yes i guess you didnt know that this nice jewish girl used to be the webmaster on an evangelical christian website. long and not so interesting story, second only to my stints as exam invigilator for israeli matriculation exams and carmelli bagel shop assistant, but suffice to say career paths are not really my forte or rather staying on them isnt.

truth is, this realization has been a bit of shock to the system. it's hard to admit that 14 years later i still haven't found what i'm looking for. especially since i was a bit of a square / straight A student (well not quite -- AAB -- and that was when
A levels were worth the parchment they were written on)

the frustrating thing is, i dont seem to retain any pertinent knowledge.
i can remember how many weddings i've been to (101, no divorces), i know what i was doing 27 april 1986 (climbing masada) and i remember birthdays of people i went to kindergarten with (happy birthday liza kliman for the 25th) but ask me to write a bit of html or explain the principles of health education, now thats something else. bloody hell, i have a BSc in cell biology (not a BS you 'BS'ing americans) and yet i still found myself in doubt over a debate with my neighbor as to whether a rooster helps to make chicks or if a hen "does it all herself". (the answer is oh-my-god yes of course they're involved -- they just have no visiting rights afterwards. check out this
link if you're confused.)

(Perhaps I should be doing this
woman's job. Polly never does the detective work but she can always identify a crim by his specific MO, however far back.)

why is this? is my memory saving space for the ultimate truth or do i just need to do a major clear out of the grey cells. or is it an issue of confidence?

i question myself if i know something when i havent thought about it or been part of it for years. especially when its what other people have created, written. my memories (as opposed to memory) are something different, they are my own, catalogued by my own unique set of connectors, viewed personally by me. i can have no doubt what i saw, smelt, felt, heard, touched -- i was there. and the date thing is just a logic puzzle linking them all up

mmmm, could be something in this. after all i often meet alot of people who are totally confident in what they know and do - even though they know nothing at all.

a lesson to be learned here if i can just remember it.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

fasting with enzymes

so i did the fasting thing today -- fast of gedaliah. supposed to commemorate the second temple time jewish political assasination which ultimately led to the exile of the Jewish people -- sound familiar?

anyway to keep it trivial and short sighted like most of day-to-day reality in israel i turn my thoughts to
dr gillian mckeith and what she'd think of my attempts to gain spritiual relief through abstinention. picked her book up just now in england and despite hippy tendencies and over interest in enzymes and colonic irrigation looks promising. cant be more crazy than all other rumours circling the world. shock horror it seems theres more to nutrition than avoiding carbs

not sure if i could do the whole thing but the quinnoa's on the boil as we speak

new year new ways

With apologies to Ani Difranco and Dayvilles I finally launch myself on the blog scene. Couple of years too late to be avante guarde but my new years resolutions are
1) To not deny myself the fun of something just because everybody else is doing it and its not hard or original (habit goes way back - from banana clips and having a perm to drinking and living in Tel Aviv to mention a few... )
2) To be open to my creativity, potential and other self help blah blah wisdoms that I look forward to both preaching and mocking in this column
3) To experiment with not revealing everything straight away -- an exercise in not-labelling, starting with myself . Hence lack of my name on this site (that is if I've managed to set this up properly)

Happy New Year to you all

PS thanks to TalG who I met over a festive meal for kicking me into gear to do this and to Harry for being the only blogger inspirational enough (or just funny) for me to check regularly