Friday, February 25, 2005

modern technology

thank god i'm an insomniac in the 21st century

its 5 am on a friday morning (akin to sunday in normal countries) and i'm chatting on im with a friend in new york and another in new zealand.
if it were 2 am i would call a friend in toronto for a chat.
and of course anytime is good to write e-mails to anyone anywhere.

hardly a second in the day when i cant connect with friends

i feel globally warmed

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


i went to a haredi wedding last night.

strangely enough, 130 wedding invites later I don't recall ever attending a separate wedding. (that is men in one hall, women in the other and bride and groom seated along the mechitza). nevermind, i know the bride from a part of my life where politics and religious persuasions are left at the door so i was really v happy just to show up, not judge (how gracious of me) and just mesameach et hakala (make the bride happy).

the truth is i was quite surprised how little the whole separation thing affected me. maybe because the hupa wasnt majorly separated and there was definitely a certain amount of informal mingling going on. or maybe because it was just so clearly not my crowd that i could accept this is what these people do. as abraham lincoln (and my father in autograph books) said - "for those who like this kind of thing, this is the kind of thing they will like".

actually at a wedding where you dont know anyone (apart from a couple of good friends) its quite relaxing to be among just women. and of course i will always owe something to the haredi all women scene as the first stand up i ever did was at a women's open mike night organized by a women chozer b'tshuva. a frum scene indeed, but one that gave me space and heard my voice. a space often misleadingly not available in the modern orthodox and secular worlds.

i was pleasantly reminded of my latest attempt to entertain the haredi world when just as i was about to perform my favourite wedding shtick (head first into the buffet) a beshetieled woman came up to me and informed me that i was very funny. no i hadnt dropped anything into the chocolate moose -- she saw me do my routine in har nof last month.

anyway, all that and my general good and optimistic mood of late meant that i was able to enjoy it for what it was and i was definintely looking forward to having a good dance. (at any kind of wedding i'm always good for am aerobic workout which doesnt incur the cost of a gym membership) and dance i did but that was where i did get a surprise and a little saddened.

so what that the band was on the other side of the mechitza so you couldnt hear the music as well?
so what that most of the women over 22 were either pregnant or with children?

so what if this wasnt a closed event and that men were within a few meters viewing distance?
why didnt any of the women sing?

and why couldnt they dance in more than one crowded circle?

they weren't quiet, in fact there was quite a noise, talking - to each other, on phones. standing right in the middle of the floor and talking... just not singing and v little of that crazy enthusiasm i have felt at other religious weddings. i must confess i was disappointed. i had thought that surely here was ok. here there was no kol isha "problem". here it was 100% badatz approved to sing and show simcha.

i pray it was an exception but i fear that my open mike experience may have been the exception. i couldnt help thinking that this was the true reflection of a life where women's voices are so maligned and restricted that they dont even realize it anymore.

luckily i was in a good enough space just to observe and not get angry. and i really was v grateful for that because i dont like turning someone-else's simcha into a place for venting my own angers at the world and its religious and patriarchal establishments. no i dont think women should put up with anything but there has to be a value for letting people be as they want to (or think they want to) at least at their own celebrations.

my only rebellion was that yes i did sing. i teamed up with a few rogue 17 year olds and really had fun. a few women looked at me, most of them (could have been my imagination but i dont think so) appreciatively maybe even enviously so. and i danced, as i am want to do at weddings, like i just don't care.

funnily enough while i didnt care what people thought, i hazarded a guess at what they must be thinking... whose that girl/woman? she's a little rowdy and different but she seems to mean well. ah yes she must be from neve (infamous women's seminary in har nof known to attract women from all wierd and wonderful backgrounds)

well it goes to show that not only were my acceptance skills in good working order, so was my perception because not 5 mins passed since i thought that (and made a mental note that i really must blog about this) than the nice girl on my left who'd chatted with me a bit when i danced with her and her little sister (daughter?) turned to me in the middle of the dance and asked "are you from neve?"

i said, no i'm from baka but that didnt really register with her, so i just smiled and took that question possibly for the one and only time in my life as a compliment. why? how? well because if i can manage to blend into such a setting for the sake of a friend and yet still give off clear signs that i know of life outside this world, then you know what, i dont i think i'm doing too badly.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

its all relative

my rosh chodesh group met last thursday (a day out i know - we are busy women with scheduling issues) as we have for the last eight plus years. the group's topics vary from month to month influenced by the person leading, the mood of the month and the phases we go through. this month - adar 1 ( a leap year month in the lunar calendar) - took us on an unexpected path which has got me thinking ever since.

note: i could easily write tonnes just about the group and its friend/family dynamic and the power of a womans group yadiayada but i'm not.

anyway thanks to the group i discovered that 2005 has been declared einstein year in celebration of 100 years since the publication of albert einstein's papers on relativity.

the connection to adar? well T, whose turn it was to run the group, is a well hidden physicist with a less hidden crush on/appreciation for mr einstein. on contemplating the concept of how every now and again (7 times in 19 years to be exact) we add a whole new month into the lunar calendar (a more wholesale approach to the 29th of february thing) T couldnt help but think about that whole time and space concept. forget the final frontier... just how bizarre is this thing called time if we can just create whole new months? why not a year, a century.

and thus T felt fit to introduce us all to e=mc2 and all that jazz. now if i got it at all, relativity in a nutshell is that time is relative and that we all experience time according to where we are. so if i'm on a train travelling 50mph and a car passes me travelling 55mph then to me its only 5 mph or something like that.

to explore the idea in more tangible terms we read chapters from a fascinating book called einstein's dreams. this fictional and highly creative book written by an MIT professor presents a group of dreams that einstein could well have had as his mind was somehow coming to grips with the relativity concept. it brought up lots of mind-bogglingideas - which i'm sure i'm going to dumb down in translation so i highly recommend you go out and read it for yourself - how would we act without memory, what would the world be like if we knew it was going to end, does where you stand affect the truth of whats happening?

stuff for deep thinking indeed much of my life is subject to this same theory?

now to say "its all relative" is no chiddish (innovation) so let me remind you that the theory only really takes any kind of effect when you get near the speed of light. thus in day to day life the effect is almost completely negligible.

and thats the point for me.

there's lots of obvious relative stuff going on in my life. differences between people that i learn to understand and even appreciate. situations i learn to handle, put myself in their shoes and so on.

but then there are the rare times when it really seems like i get it. we're there together - in the experience. you saw it felt it, i saw it felt it. it was there - genuine, sincere.... there. and yet there's that tiniest nuance, so easily missed but there all the same and suddenly its different. two totally different experiences - almost undetected by the human eye. two simultaneous occurences with critical divergences.

and thats it. what you thought was perfect synchronicity has gone. in the end it may not matter. but at this point it doesnt exist. enlightening and deflating at the same time and like most things in this world totally out of my control -- try though i may.

almost sad to be so close yet so apart. take solace in the fact that to have got so close we must've been travelling at the speed of light.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

early morning observations

- my fingers just turned blue hanging out my washing. (i'm typing now so they can thaw a bit lest i bust a blood vessel by showering too soon) lord... this weather has to warm up, i know i came to live in israel for ideological reasons but a few years on, mild winters are welcome positive reinforcement.

- oprah must be about to launch her own religion or ministry or something. that woman talks more g-d and spirituality in one show than some united synagogue (uk) rabbis talk in a lifetime. (and she gives away stuff)

- i shouldnt be fooled into thinking that because i've been awake for two hours and been productive that this is going to last too much longer into the day. i predict a 11:35 am snorefest at my desk and heavy negotiations on deadlines with a feisty account manager at approximately 2:00pm

happy day

Thursday, February 03, 2005

bill please

is it my imagination or did every single utility company plus several non-utility ones just send out the hugest bills ever simultaneously?

did i really spend mid november to mid january heating a sauna in my apartment, cooking for england on all four burners, speaking non-stop on the phone abroad and locally (oh and on my mobile in the other hand), gushing niagra (or a spring in ein gedi) out of my taps, all while driving on kvish 6 (israel toll road) in a non-taxed car?

in general i'm good with bills -- paying and monitoring. i even did a personal finances course last year that really help me get organized but when the push comes to shove (and it just did in a huge push shovey kind of way) i hate paying them.

and if the obligation to pay them wasnt enough then there's all that other wierd bill behavior to really piss you off.

the great disappearing bill
the bill's due on the 10th of the month so following the wisdom of my course i only pay it on the 10th otherwise the company gets the benefit of my money (and i dont) for longer than they deserve. i spend 2 weeks with bill in bag or by my computer or somewhere memorable and then suddenly on the 10th it moves/is moved/runs to freedom. i dont know which is true and i'm really not ready to enter into the inanimate objects cant move debate cos we all know deep down based on empirical evidence and a belief in pixies that is blatantly the biggest hoax in scientific history... but all i do know is at this rate i should just automatically add another 5-10 nis to each bill i have , based on the excess charges i end up paying. grrr!

the miscalculated bill
i guess once we're throwing money at these companies anyway why should we possibly expect service at the same time. they must be far too busy counting their wads. which explains why they (whoops) add the amount you already paid last month rather than subtracting it (ha ha dorgaz gas company i caught you this time) or as is the case with the Israel water company (Gihon) they just cant seem to get round to reading the meters so they thought they'd just guess instead.

the unpayable bill
recurring offenders for this one are the israeli tv licence people. this bill may not be paid in a bank or the post office and their telephone lines are open like twice a week. what do they want me to do pay them in blood through the ER? whats more as well us charging phenomenal amounts of money even to those who dont even have a tv (but once 5 years ago they shared with a roommate who did) and despite being totally uncontactable they do manage to automatically add 10% to bills (and send out a new one) if the bill is even a sniff of a day late.

oh well time to go -- sitting here typing could be costing me money.