Friday, November 26, 2004

whats the harm in trying?

it seems i've exploited the job interviewing and dating analogy too many times in my stand up routine and have angered the gods of online dating. last week i got a reject letter from jdate.

i shan't regale you with years of jdate stories as the experts do it much better, but you do need some background.

recently, after a number of years as a non-paying member with limited privileges and too many free nights i decided it was time to be proactive and pay for Jdate. at the bargain bonanza price of 300 nis for 3 months, this meant that i could now write to whoever i wanted rather than wait for Shlomi, 40, divorced with 4 kids from Bat Yam to drop me a line. so thats what i did.

i decided to go for the broader approach - i found profiles that sounded interesting, not necessarily thrilling but vaguely in the ball park. i also tried my best to ignore possible stumbling blocks including certain politicial opinions and borderline cliche essays. i really felt that afterall we are all adults now and know that whats on paper and whats in person differs naturally so its not worth analyzing every word . (oh how naive i was)

i wrote several letters out, a number answered, most not. i was ok with that - its par for the course. however one particular response really got my goat and seriously made me consider taking said goat, flying to the alps and taking maria's place in the convent.

the guy in question, who we shall call COD123 -- he gave an equally impersonal name, was according to his own description, as follows:

Strongly opinionated, but considerate – and I cook well. I have a meat-and-potatoes perspective on life, but having traveled extensively, I appreciate French wine with the meal. Though my sense of humor is readily apparent, its quality is debatable. Slightly, chronically absentminded, I learned to master acting as if I know who you are. When there are problems I look for solutions, and I find that a smile and gentle touch often go a long way. A good vacation can be spent reading interesting books or bivouacing in the mountains.
(i had no idea what bivouacing means but remember i was allowing for such faults as being a pretentious wanker so i kept reading.)

his perfect match was:

A woman who values a warm, vibrant Jewish household and has first-rate values, a keen mind, a healthy sense of self, and an outgoing personality. She is curious to learn about the world and is interested in exploring it, and she is refined. Also, having an off-beat sense of humor is key!

does this or does this not describe me? for those of you who aren't sure about my Jewish household sensibilities, if i tell you that its 9am on friday morning and i've already cooked a soup and two side dishes, would that convince you?

anyway given two mentions of humor in his essays plus the minimum requisite vital stats (age, education etc) i thought i'd write. my note was brief, witty and i thought distinctly unproposal like and non-commital...

If I have to debate anything, a sense of humour is something worth debating. I write a blog -- http://32andthensome.blogspot. com -- check it out and see if my humour is off beat enough for you. Would love to chat if yes.
Have a good evening
(note i do give my full name on the site but dont think i'm going to slip up and give it here and ruin my longest attempt at anonymity ever!)

i thought at the worst the guy would say nice read but no, or maybe chat a bit about blogs and then leave it at that. instead i got this charming little ditty in my jdate mailbox.

Hi L,
Thank you for writing. Having read your profile, I do not think that we would be an appropriate match. I do appreciate the time and effort you made to contact me, and I wish you much success.

i was amazed. this was truly nothing short of a reject letter. it wasn't even clear that he'd read my e-mail given distinct lack of blog reference (positive or negative) and the letter's overall automated human resources tone. i was to be sure, gobsmacked.

(Of course true to female form i managed to turn an element of this into self criticism. i began to question the possibly too blase impression my profile gives in regards to religion and the like, and so i quickly edited my "about me" section to mention more about my deep jewish identity yadiyada. whatever...)

my response was (i couldnt not, for the sake of womankind)

Wow thats a professional reject letter you have drafted there. Complete with impersonal name.

Shame, I guess you were innundated with resumes

Good luck with your search


curt and possibly too polite - a good friend said that i should have changed the second line to read "Shame, I guess you've received many of these letters yourself". but whatever, that was it as far as i was concerned. COD123 didnt write again and i spent the rest of the week trying to work out how to fit in a piece in my routine about jdate reject letters and men who cant even give out their real names.

shame i didnt.

this week's comedy came and went, and as with every performance i wondered whether maybe there'd be some guy in the audience who wouldnt be put off by a woman on stage and actually be attracted by it. (its happened before i'm proud to say). i even had a slight fantasy about COD123 turning up to the show (jerusalem is a small place) and leaving in depression at the opportunity missed, returning alone to a sad 70s decor katamon apt to flagellate himself for hours for his stupidity and arrogance.

a couple of days later i was wandering the corridors at work and i bumped into this guy who looked vaguely familiar. we both looked at each other and i just couldnt place him but then he said -- i know you, cos you did the comedy the other night. quite used to such an encounter, i made my normal quip about "why dont they ever introduce the audience to me" and asked him his name -- David Cohen. He was complimentary about the show, we chatted a bit and then i directed him on his way.

and that was it until this morning when a stroke of creative genius sparked by some excellent left brain activity of chopping vegetables for aforementioned soup made me check COD123's jdate profile again. i looked at the picture and it was none other than David Cohen. i wasnt sure, but it made sense -- COD - David Cohen.

i couldnt believe it -- the guy had even had a chance to reprieve himself and failed abysmally. i checked his profile again but there was definitely no mention of lack of balls.

still not 100% sure i asked my flatmate if she knew a David Cohen (his real name is slightly less ubiquitous) and she said yes and photo-ID'd him. in fact she confirmed my initial intuitions about the guy which i had so sincerely ignored in the spirit of giving it a try.

so what have i learned?
- trust my intuition
- be cynical or be disappointed
or maybe
- its time jdate saved us all some anxst and got user reviews!

shabbat shalom!

Monday, November 22, 2004

i'd like to accept this award....

after all the moaning, griping and neuroses, nights like last night remind me why i bother to do this. (alas, no, i'm not referring to the jerusalem dating scene)

i performed comedy last night in j-town, my first public performance since March 2003 and it was wonderful.

i would probably be more descriptive and emotive had i not skipped supper due to nerves, had a smirnoff ice to give me dutch courage before the show and a huge glass of wine afterwards and got rather tipsy. i sound like a wuss but i came home singing and declaring love to my friends, flatmate and most of the cars and trees in the baka area. that would have been ok if it wasnt for the fact that despite two bowls of chicken soup at midnight i developed a splitting headache by 1:30am, slept for maybe 3 hours and then was woken up by drink-induced insomnia at around 5:30.

ho hum

they say that alcohol is a mood enhancer and its so true. there are only two routes to leave the stage after a comedy performance --- flying or via the depths of hell (even though the differential in audience reaction is by no means as wide-ranging). and as my experiences can testify drink only goes to sharpen these extremes.

last night, thank god, i took the runway not the down elevator. it was a packed room with a good spirited but by no means lame crowd. i really enjoyed myself on stage and without wishing to sound too much like a sanctimonious oscar recipient i was just so grateful that i was able to do that. i am continually amazed by peoples reactions. i am apt to take the stance that if i can do something it really can't be so difficult. and yet apparantly making people laugh is.

i also felt an incredible sense of family (perhaps thats the wrong word given my critique of said social unit in my routine) with the jerusalem audience. i'm performing on wednesday night in tel aviv. if i can find even a fraction of that kinsmanship with the crowd there, then i should be ok.

oh well, must go now. no-one has ever responded to my stand-up with the line "dont give up the day job", but still, i havent yet summoned up the courage to do that quite yet. JFTT.

Friday, November 19, 2004

this explains a lot

so tony's finally done it.
the british parliament just banned fox hunting in england.

this is big. after all the british upper classes wouldn't be where they are today if they hadn't gone out on the weekend with daddy and his pals and shot a few rabbits and foxes.

putting class struggle, animal rights and country/urban population tensions aside, the way this bill was passed is far more revealing about the british psyche than understanding the english country gentleman's fetish for breeches and jodhpurs.

it was all because of the parliament act of 1949.

bit of background (although i recommend you go here to get the full picture.)
parliamentary bills in the uk can only be passed if they are approved by the house of commons and the house of lords. the house of commons is made up of 659 members of parliament who are voted in by their constituents - the electorate - the public. the house of lords is made up of life peers (appointed by the queen) and heriditary peers although thanks to recent reforms only a small percentage can still vote.

in order to curb the house of lords' ability to keep a bill from being passed the parliamentary act of 1949 was introduced. this means that in the case of most commons bills (excluding financial stuff), the lords can hold up a bill they disagree with for about a year but ultimately the elected house of commons can reintroduce it in the following session and pass it without the lords’ consent.

before thursday, the 1949 parliament act had been used only three times:
1) to allow british courts to try nazis suspected of war crimes (1991)
2) to change the electoral system for selecting representatives to the european parliament (1999)
3) to lower the age of consent for homosexual sex (2000)

and now its been used a fourth time to ban foxhunting.

so the way i understand it... britain's elite feel most threatened by animals, gays, jews or europe


Thursday, November 18, 2004

fickle fear

this is me sky diving over wanaka in new zealand. 9000 ft drop - 30 seconds free fall - the guy behind me is jan. fabulous, fanstastic, amazing - an exhilarating experience which you can read about in my travel journal.... but not yet.


well because obviously i am using this photo as a trigger for an entirely different discussion and not to hark back to adventures past.

oh, ok

so my question is this. why do i have no fear (or negligible amounts) when it comes to skydiving, rollercoasters, light aircrafts planes (as small as a 2 seater), microlytes, paragliding or anything airbound but the thought of failing in front of an audience, of not delivering the perfect performance, of not being entirely original and new each time, paralyse me with fear?

i just came from a meeting with two fellow comedians in preparation of the comedy nights we have coming up next week and to discuss the real possibility of performing regularly and i am ashamed of how negative i was. my fear of not being good enough is projected on to any possibility of actually getting the practice i need and moving to making comedy a larger part of my life and i found myself shooting down any optimistic suggestion. luckily the organizer has a thick enough skin to ignore my blocked artist sabateur streak but i have to go home with it.

what am i scared of? of actually following a dream, or even just admitting to it? why am i so fearful of just talking when i can take real physical risks so lightly?

(to be honest even as i write this i'm worried that i havent posted a "funny" post for a while so maybe i'm not doing this right either)

as any good therapist or even Dr Phil (who is fierce competition for Oprah at the moment for providing with my daily pre-work sob) would say - asking why i feel a certain way is a thankless and pointless quest. I need to accept my feelings for what they are and deal with them.

alright then, here's some positive affirmations
-- i hearby embrace my fear, recognize it, validate it and tell it to f**k right off.
-- i will be very funny on sunday night even with my old material -- it made you laugh before so you'll laugh again, but this time harder
-- i am open to all the opportunities that come my way - because i deserve them

ok better stop this touchy feely stuff, before they strip me of my british citizenship

;-) LG

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

knowing who I am

as i casually and narcistically blog my thoughts, moans and aspirations about who i am and who i want to be, it rarely, if ever, occurs to me that to know who i am --- who my parents are, what their families were like, my family background/heritage/legacy, whatever--- is a luxury not shared by everyone.

Yaakov Shai or JAKOV SCHENKOLEWSKI is my friend's father in law. he is a holocaust survivor who literally doesn't know anything about his family. He doesnt know his parents names or even his exact age.

read his
forward it to anyone who might have a lead.
or just meditate for a minute about everything you know about yourself and be grateful

Saturday, November 13, 2004

it's not easy being green

tonight as I walked down to our local community garden with a pail of decomposing vegetable and fruit scraps to add to the compost bin I realized that I've becoming unrecognizable environmentally friendly of late.

In addition to my compost collection:
-- I try my best to recycle plastic bottles and newspapers
-- Some of my favourite clothes come from clothing swaps with friends
-- I've dated at least three divorced men (.......well its recycling)

I think I'm tom and barbara's lost love child

(watch bbc prime at 7pm on sundays if you dont get the reference)

Thursday, November 11, 2004

it's my write

in october 2001 i gave up a job in hi tech.

true, the writing was on the wall for the company i was at, but at that point my job was still there, i just didnt want it. i needed a break. i took redundancy pay and decided to travel.

my literal traveling was for four months but the journey into the rest of my life is three years and counting.

it is not my intention to present a full account and analysis but i describe the main motif as:
trying to find out who i am; what i want to do; what i can do; and to follow my instinct as best as i can.

one strand of this journey of self-discovery has been my writing.

i was always the scientist of the family - other family members had the literature and dramatics specialities covered. five years ago i began performing stand up comedy (a story that deserves its own blog post) but when i was traveling i discovered a desire to write and document. i spent four months with notebook by my side and wrote in-depth and may i say even insightful (if long) travelogues home to friends and family.

i wont pretend that since then i've had this meteroic rise to fame as author extraordinaire but it lit the spark

its been baby steps -- a couple of travelwriting gigs, a newspaper article about my comedy, several freelance grantwriting jobs. the point is i've discovered something i can do and that if i choose to i can nurture.

and one key step in my process has been realizing that just as with my comedy where i dont want to organize the event i just want to perform.... i dont want to be the organizer, coordinator or manager facilitating others at work anymore either.

so thats why i'm really excited to say that i just got my first full time writing job! it's where i'm working already and its mostly grant writing with some descriptive pieces but it's 100% writing!

i feel really good about it... and this blog... and the comedy i will be performing in a couple of weeks time (organized by somebody else - yay!) because it just seems right and where i'm supposed to be...

just for today

want to read my travelogues? check out the special blog i set up: less than 32 and traveling.
interested in nurturing your own talents and creativity? read this book: the artists way

Sunday, November 07, 2004

have you got a cold or are you just unenthused to see me?

So if you've readabout my insomnia then I guess you're ready to hear about my cold tendency.

no of course i am a wonderfully warm person... i just sneeze alot... and oh i blow my nose. doesnt sound too attractive i know but get over it, there's more to life than mucus.

sometimes its allergies but today it just crept up on me. this morning i left the house speaking and breathing like a normal person. this evening i sound like my nose ring has mutated and blocked up both my nostrils, i have a nose that is running for england and i am to tissues what pigpen is to dust and dirt.

by the way i pronounce it tiss-you not tishew. blame my oldest friend's mother who together with her daughter decided to continue where apparantly my mother had left off or given up and teach me how to be a refined young lady at the age of 6. dont think it worked but atleast now i know that horses sweat, men perspire and ladies glow. (i think i may be developing a fever cos now in addition to snorting i am glowing something rotten)

i remember when i first got hayfever at the age of 9. it was so much more exotic than my runny nose that had basically lasted my entire (then) short lifetime. i had secret ambitions that i might become a world record holder after roy castle (z"l) played his trumpet really loudly on record breakers for this girl who couldnt stop sneezing. i never checked it with the judges but between 13 march 1981 and 13 march 1982 i sneezed 4334 times. ... now that's dedication.

over a decade of high addiction to triludan hayfever medication meant that i was of course delighted and tribulated to hear that for all intents and purposes my drug of choice had been discontinued in the uk although i'm not too sure whether it was for bona fide health reasons or the health of her majesty's health service's coffers. this and the desire to reconnect with nature and live in denial led me to going pretty much cold turkey. as the lord continues to bles the air of jerusalem it seems to have worked although occasionally an emergency cat situation gives the turkey a run for its money.

so thats basically it, although in case we ever meet up i must confess to being a heavy breather. and i cant promise to confine it to phone calls when you need excitement - it's a 24 hour thing. not too obvious otherwise i'd really be a recluse but just enough so that i'm quickly detected if i fall asleep in the cinema and can regale such embarassing situations as my first driving test. stopping at a traffic lights the tester asked me if i wanted to open the window. it was april in england (i.e. still freezing temperatures) so the answer was really no but as i'd just executed a very dodgy three point turn i didnt want to argue. i rolled down the window but could see he was still staring at me. after a while i realized what was going on and said "oh no, i always breathe like this" at which point the bastard told me to close the window and then went on to fail me on three different technicalities. what a bogeyman!

thats about it....... watch out for my next installment -- career asthma for beginners or an asthmatic with bronchitis' guide to amusing friends through hilarous impressions of their cars not starting.

my name's LG -- gezundheit!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

out of petrol and appreciation

i hate those 'only in israel' lines.

personally i'd be willing to forego every taxi driver who wants to set me up with his nephew, every matza pizza with fake shrimps and even my right to ask people what they earn, for some good old mundane customer service, a decent salary and the ability to buy (and use) a car without crippling myself financially. after all, why does it have to be one or the other? surely a truly jewish state should be one where there is both an equitable balance of wealth and neighbors who will look out for you.

why do i bring this up? well with all my moaning for israel just to be normal already and to stop putting idiosyncratic niceties on pedestals, it seems i may just be taking some things for granted.

last saturday night, on return from a weekend with friends in the netanya area, i found myself out of petrol (gas) 1.5 km away from the Sha'ar Hagay/Bet Shemesh junction of Road 1 on my way back to Jerusalem.
the reasons for this mishap are not worth going into but suffice to say when a broken petrol guage costs 600 nis to mend (and that was what it cost 2 years ago) in the current economic climate one may be loath to make the payment, preferring to rely on the kilometer counter instead.

having found out that my car does more or less exactly 400km to the tank and that my tow service charges 170nis call out fee plus the price of the petrol to come to the rescue, i decided to walk the 1.5km down the highway and cross over to the petrol station on the other side to get the needed fuel. the fact that it was dark (it was 8pm) or that in another country a woman walking alone along the side of the road could be in considerable danger hardly occured to me. i was too chuffed over the fact that this time (yes, i know, no comment) i had a water bottle in my car that could be used to be cut and moulded into a funnel for the petrol.

i had hardly walked two mins until a car stopped ahead of me and reversed back. the driver opened the door and enquired what was wrong. i got in, again without a beat (the car had gush katif stickers so while i knew straight away that we were politically incompatible, i had no suspicion that he was a terrorist crusing for an opportunity). then this nice nameless man dropped me the distance i needed and before i knew it i had crossed one of israel's main highways and was at the petrol station.

while i was having an empty window wash container filled up with petrol a driver asked me directions to the town of ofakim. not altogether altruistically i told him what i knew and tagged a request for a lift back down the road on to the end of my helpful answer. he agreed straight away, even waiting and holding off his journey until i had been served.

all in all, what could have been an endless nightmare was no more than a 15 minute setback leaving me with a wonderfully warm feeling of community and self-sufficiency. and i hardly blinked.

could this have happened in another country? that may be irrelevant. more important to be grateful that it can happen in the country i call home. after all if life is a journey and not a destination, it would seem advisable to look out onto the road and appreciate the view along the way.