Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Woman Lights Match on Plane to Disguise Odor of Flatulence, Causing Emergency Landing

I have nothing that I could possibly add to this.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Only In My World

One of the most difficult aspects of relocation is making new friends. I have to admit, I've been fairly spoiled, since all my life I've been in one framework or another, and married an incredibly social guy with a large group of friends. While I always enjoyed making new friends, there was never any need.

I assumed, once we arrived in D.C., that it would take a few weeks before I started finding girlfriends, and before we started finding a few couples which we clicked with. Not quite. Now, for those of you who know me, you would agree with this statement:

"Aliza could make friends with a brick wall."

So imagine my suprise when I found out how incredibly hard it is to meet people. Hubby and I have chosen to live in a suburb which has a big Jewish community, is a 15 minute drive from the office and is ridiculously more affordable than downtown D.C. I did my homework and checked out the area prior to our arrival, and was told that it would be completely suitable for a couple in our religious/no-kids framework. I feel slightly misled. Our apartment is gorgeous and huge, the air is clean and we're near a bunch of kosher food stores, but suburbia is, in a word, BORING. If you have no kids and like the city (gee, somewhat like myself!) you will find yourself going slightly batty. And I've definately made an effort. While I'm slowly finding some women in the community, it's taken a looooong time.

Before actually meeting the few people I've clicked with in the building, I made an effort with everyone and anyone. I was lonely for conversation, for a friend to chat with over coffee and go shopping. I really put myself out there. When Hubby and I went to a wine tasting a few weeks ago, he was duly impressed that I got more numbers than the single guys in the room. I've started conversations with people in elevators, the check-out line, the train station. You name it, I've tried to use it.

One of my efforts has actually paid off, in the form of Kim. Kim was the salesgirl at the Gap that I went to when I wanted to test my marriage (otherwise known as bringing my husband jeans shopping with me and asking for his honest opinion). One thing led to another, and soon she and I were shmoozing away as Hubby paid for the purchases. Realizing that there was no end in sight, he made the passing comment of "Why don't you two exchange numbers and go get a coffee sometime." He thought it was a joke. We took it seriously. Kim is nice, funny, a single mom and supporting herself and kids with two jobs while she gets her masters in public health. That was a good enough start for me.

Last night, Kim called. It was our first phone conversation. Making a new friend is somewhat akin to having a first date, in my mind. You think you like the person, you have a connection, but is there enough there to sustain a few hours together? What if I say something stupid? What if she doesn't like me? As we were chatting away, Kim mentioned that she was studying for a German final. I told her that the only German I know is from my work at Yad Vashem. To make a long story short, Kim is equally interested in the Holocaust, to the degree that she combined her German studies with Holocaust studies - in Germany. There should be one more thing that I should mention about Kim, to give this an even broader context - she's an African-American. Technically, she has no connection to the Holocaust other than the fact that she's a person, and the Holocaust was perpetrated on other human beings. Yet, we managed to find this random common ground.

Now put yourself in Hubby's shoes, and imagine his reaction when he was greeted with this statement as he walked in door:

"Sweetie, remember Kim from the Gap? Well, she just called and we talked for half an hour, and it was mostly about the Holocaust. Isn't it great that we have commong interests?"

It was one of many times which I've left him speechless.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

That's going to help!

News update: Ehud Olmert is "disappointed" by the firing of Kassams into Israel, in breach of the ceasefire. Well now, that makes things ok. Disappointment is really going to save lives.

Partners in peace? Wake up Olmert, and smell the coffee before that's blown up too.

It Never Stops

Accusations of Jewish manipulation and control have existed for centuries. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a ficticious manifesto which was written by the Tsarist Secret Police, a propaganda publication which has since proliferated and been kept alive, most recently being broadcast as a 41 part series in Egypt. It is impossible to count the number of times officials from Muslim countries have blamed Israel and the "Zionists" for controlling the media, the banks, the weather. You name it, we control it.

The most famous pack of lies in recent years came from the outgoing president of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, who told a summit of Islamic leaders that "Jews rule the world by proxy", arguing that the world's 1.3 billion Muslims shouldn't let the Jews control the world's outcome anymore. This was not only believed, but wildly applauded by all in attendance.

So, it should really come as no suprise that Israel and the Zionists are once again being blamed for the world's atrocities - Darfur, this time. Silly me, all this time I had been under the impression that the government-backed Janjaweed had been targeting ethnic groups and committing genocide. Nope, I was wrong.

Sudan's president claims that reports of genocide were fabrications which were "all part of an Israeli-led worldwide conspiracy". Never mind the reports from the UN and various human rights organizations, stating that over 400,000 people have been murdered. Ignore the horrific tales emanating from refugee camps, where women talk of group rape while their family was forced to watch, and having their husbands and sons murdered before their eyes. Apparently, media coverage of Darfur was being orchestrated by Israel, in order to aide Western society in their wars in Israel, Afghanistan and Iraq.

There is a part of me which says that this man should simply be pooh-poohed, that there is more evidence than could be documented which conflicts with his claims. However, experience has taught me that there will be those who will believe every word, internalize it, and further vilify Israel and the Jews, adding on another reason to continue the muslim vendetta against Israel. No matter how Tzipi Livni tries to paint Israel as a fun place, no matter how many meetings there are between Israelis and Palestinians, the problems in the Middle East will never be resolved until the muslim populations begin to take responsibility for their actions, stop blaming the Jews and stop entrenching their populations in fallacies and vilifications. Only then, might the world have a chance at seeing peace.

Suprise, Surprise

After you live in Israel for a certain period, you begin to understand the peculiar lingo which is bandied around by politicians and other public figures. Therefore, I shook my head with weariness at Ehud Olmert's defeatist proclamations of peace, splashed across the morning newspapers. His announcement comes the day after a ceasefire was declared between Gaza and Israel. A ceasefire during which 5 rockets already hit Israel. It is a well-known fact that the only time terrorists seek a hudna (ceasefire) is when the Israeli army is actually doing their job and eliminating terror threats.

Imagine my "suprise" to see this excerpt in an article on ynet:
"The ceasefire offers a period of calm for our fighters to recover and prepare for our final goal of evacuating Palestine," said Abu Abir, spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees, a Hamas-allied terror organization in the Gaza Strip responsible for many of the recent rocket attacks against Israeli communities. "We will keep fighting Israel, but for the moment we will postpone certain part of the military struggle," Abu Abir said.

How many rounds of this will it take for the government to turn down one of these "ceasefires"? How many more suicide bombings will it take? How many more renewed rounds of Kassam attacks? Where are the Palestinian voices saying they will do all they can to stop Kassam fire and terrorists, so that Israel and the Palestinians can engage in a true peace process, one with solid foundations, and not one built on a skimpy skeletal frame, camouflaged by smoke and mirrors.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Day I Made the Driving Tester Cry

I'm back. As I said in the last post, Washington DC was our next destination. I've been here for two months, hubby for three, and it's been an interesting (if somewhat boring) experience thus far. We made the fiscally responsible choice of suburbia over Dupont Circle or Georgetown, and as a result I'm going slightly desparate housewife-ish. But we're meeting nice people and most importantly, I've found three H&M's nearby...

Part of relocating to a new country, as many of you know, is having to establish your existance. Opening a bank account, getting cell phones, a land line, etc. Maryland has a law which states that if a person moves from overseas to Maryland, their license is valid for only two months. As that period was rapidly approaching, I made an appointment to transfer my license. By transfer, I mean I had to take a 3 hour drug and alcohol awareness class (which I finished in under an hour) and then take the theory and practical tests all over again. I read and reviewed the driving laws, filled up the car and made my was to the DMV. I was confident in all but one thing - my parallel parking.

Now, before you start making female driver jokes, let me make it clear that I am an excellent driver, with an admittedly aggressive/defensive streak, but I've never had an accident in the 5+ years that I've had a license, but average parallel parking skills. However, in the two months since I've arrived, I have not needed to parallel park once. Nope - not a single time. Therefore, the night before the test, I pushed the boundaries of my marriage and placed hubby in the passenger seat and drove around till we found a street with some cars that I could park between. After an hour's practice, I felt confident of my abilities, and we went home. Hubby received big brownie points for his equanimity and the ability to remain calm under bad parking.

Day of the Test - I sail through the theory exam, mentally hit myself for giving my true weight on the license and not taking of 10 pounds, and head around the back of the building for the practical exam. As the tester walks towards my car, I mentally groan. He appears to have all the humanity of a corpse. I put on my brightest smile (thank you mom and dad for 2.5 years of braces) and cheerfully greet the tester. He asks to see my license and says,
"Oooh, an Israeli license! What part of the country are you from?"
I sense an ally and make my move.

"Jerusalem. It's gorgeous. Have you been?"

I make a friend. To make a long story short, the tester was a Republican, pro-Israeli/anti-Muslim war veteran. I played my cards right and we end up shmoozing for 15 minutes before the test begins. At one point in our conversation, I mention that both of my grandfathers had been WW II veterans, and he asks if I've seen the Holocaust Museum in Washingon DC. I tell him that I'm a tour guide at Yad Vashem. He then does something I've never seen a middle-aged male driving tester do. He begins to cry.

"I'm sorry, the Holocaust just upsets me so. Those people..."

As he composes himself, I pat his hand and lay the final snare to ensure that I pass.

"Don't worry. It's wonderful that you can feel so deeply in this time and age."

Cue the violins and gagging sounds.

When I slightly bungled the parallel parking, the tester walked me through it and ensured that I got perfect marks.

To make a long story short, I now have a lovely Marlyand license with a FANTASTIC picture. When I called hubby to tell him that I made the tester cry, his (predictable) remark was:

"Was your driving that bad?"

Thursday, July 06, 2006

When Dreams Come True

In the musical Wicked, the good witch Glinda sings about having your dreams come true:

Cause getting your dreams
It's strange, but it seems
A little - well - complicated
There's a kind of a sort of - cost
There's a couple of things get - lost...
And if that joy, that thrill
Doesn't thrill you like you think it will...

A dream of mine is coming true, but I didn't realize how much I wanted it to remain a dream until it became reality. Hubby has been asked by the Jewish Agency to be an Aliyah Shaliach (emissary) in the good ol' US of A, and we will be moving there for a 2-3 year period at the end of the summer.

I made aliya at 14, two weeks before high school began, and was dragged here kicking and screaming. My year revolved around my visits back to the States, seeing my relatives and friends, the shopping and fun, and the feelings of comfort and familiarity which I didn't have in Israel. This continued all during high school. I dreamed of the day that I would move back to America, go to college there and come back to Israel after I had a degree. I went to Midreshet Lindenbaum (a women's yeshiva) for a year and then did a year of Sheirut Leumi (national service for religious women). That year of sheirut was the first time that I was actually happy in Israel. I mean really happy, content.

I had seriously contemplated going to university in the States, but for a number of reasons, chose to stay in Israel and go to Hebrew U. I regret the decision for a number of reasons, but paradoxically it was the best decision I've ever made, cause I started dating hubby in my first semester and I never would have met this wonderful man had I gone to the States to study. But I still wondered what my life and GPA would have been like had I gone to the States, the "What If..." a persistent little voice in my head. I felt that I needed to go and live there for a few years, just to get it out of my system. It was a consistent dream, a desire. But due to hubby being the ardent Zionist he is, (which is one of the many things I love about him) moving to the States for a few years "just because" wasn't an option.

Suddenly, the opportunity was presented on a golden platter. Shlichut, going as an emissary to encourage aliyah and Israel programs, being a representative of the country which we love. We received official acceptance in April, and then the oddest thing happened. My dream had come true, I would be going to the States for a few years, "getting it out of my system". And yet, I am experiencing a surprising reticence. I don't want to leave my home. I'm happy here. This past year has been difficult, in the respect of needing to juggle multiple jobs, a full load of classes, my marriage and a social life. But I have been so happy. I love my husband, love our apartment, love our location, our friends, basically our life that we've built. Suddenly, my dream, once actualized, is making me more sad than happy. It's funny how that happens, huh?

There are good points about going to the States. I'll be living near my grandmothers, both of whom are elderly and not in the greatest of health. I plan on pursuing an M.A. while we're there, and I know that as a team, hubby and I can accomplish so much for Israel, a country which we are both in love with. Hubby will make a fantastic shaliach, and I'm so proud of what he's going to do. I plan on boosting the American economy (I have a slight H&M addiction).
But when it all comes down to it, I'm equally sad and excited.

Even though we haven't left yet, I can't wait to come home.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Football Widow

I'm alone. I have been for the last several nights, actually a few weeks ago. My husband has left me. He's here but he's not. I hear tortured shouts and yells from the basement, my presence is but a mere nusaince. As a matter of fact, the TV has replace me.

Yes, I'm a football widow.

The soccer World Cup, which began June 9th, has enraptured my husband, ensnared him, and I am no competition. The Mondial (as it's called here in the holy land) costs the princely sum of 309 NIS, and as it's viewed for free in pretty much every other country in the world, caused cries of outrage to be heard from hubby and pretty much the rest of the male population in Israel. I figured that I should be supportive of hubby's habits, so when he confessed that he was wavering between buying the package (to view all the games) or not, I enthusiastically supported him in purchasing the Mondial. I was quite pleased with my understanding and support, and hubby was happy that he could watch to his heart's content.

Had I knonw the reprecussions of the purchase, I might have been slightly less keen. For example, in my previous blog, I mentioned I was in a play. Hubby only came to the play once assured he could be home in time to watch England play. Now, I understand how much he loves soccer and he's English, but really! Hell, I tape things I really want to see, and watch them a bit later. And I know that my abandonment will continue into the first week of July.

So here I sit, alone, at quarter to eleven at night, while Argentina is the object of my husband's delight.


What's In A Heil?

Last night I was in a play which was compiled of stories found in the Nazi propaganda book for children Trust No Fox on the Green Heath and No Jew on His Oath and short satirical stories taken from a Terezen Ghetto periodical called Cammerade which was written by teens in the camp. The purpose of the show was meant to show how children lost their innocence, how children were brainwashed from a young age to think the Jews were evil in contrast to Jewish children who had to behave as adults, in order to deal with the harsh reality they were living in.

Some of the pieces were heartwrenching, like one called "Night Fairy Tale" where a 12 year old boy wrote a story of how the "ladder was moaning since his brother was broken and burnt in the crematorium, and the oven was furious that the others were calling him a crematorium, and the lightbulb missed the prohibition of using lights in the evening, which had been a group punishment, since then she really had time to rest". All of these descriptions took reality and made it plausible.
But the most difficult part, personally was a piece called "The Fuerher's Children" in which we marched and chanted a children's poem about devotion to the Hitler Youth. After much debate, and arguing in rehearsals, for the sake of authenticity, we chose to incorporate the Heil salute. It's just a movement, just a hitting of the chest and then swinging the arm out straight. But I cannot tell you how that simple movement filled me with revulsion, how I was literally covered in goosebumps every time I had to do it, and overcome by a sudden naseau. It took us a while to get the beat and rythme correct, and that necessitated doing the piece over and over, salute after salute. I was afraid I would become numb to what I was doing.

The play was a great success, but I cannot forget the gasps I heard coming from the audience when we thrust out our arms, held them high, chanting "We wish to live for the furher, we look to a bright future". And despite being in character, being caught up in the heady drug which acting is for me, I was momentarily jerked out of the scene, and I was grateful for it. For the fear of falling too much into character, of identifying with the committment and joy a 5 year old must have felt with the marching, support, uniforms and music, was too terrifying a prospect for me to even consider.

As I sit here writing this, it amazes me that even after 60+ years, the salute of a movement which I never came into contact with, which symbolizes a horror my people went through, can still affect me so.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Tired...So Tired

I'm tired. It's been a long week thus far, and it's not going to ease up anytime soon. But it's the sort of exhaustion which begins when you don't get a decent sleep on Saturday night, as the weekend slips away and Sunday arrives.

I gave a presentation today on the Simpsons as show which mixes genres and inhabits postmodernist cultural markers, and began preparing for it on Saturday evening with a friend. We worked until 1am and then went to sleep, since I needed to be out of the house by 7:45am and needed a few hours of sleep.

I tossed and turned, and as I was finally drifting off, my cellphone rang. It was 2am. I looked at the caller ID and saw that it was my boss. I almost didn't pick up, as there are limits to how available I can be for my job, but decided to answer incase it was an emergency. Good thing I did. The conversation went something like this:

Me: waswrong?

Boss: An American student was kidnapped this evening in Nablus, please do not talk to the press, students or parents if they call you to get information.

Yes, this is what I get to find out about at 2am. I worked with overseas students this past year, and had just finished saying goodbye to them, as their semester finished at the end of May. While there were still some students around, most had gone home or were leaving shortly. I was shocked to hear the news and was fairly wired, as one can imagine.

As I'm drifting off to sleep for the second time, around 3am, I hear a massive BOOM and the house shakes slightly. Ambulence sirens sound a few minutes later. All I can think is why would anyone want to bomb my neighborhood at 3am on a Saturday night? I finally fall asleep shortly before 5am, thus getting about two hours of sleep.

But all's well that ends well. When I dragged myself out of bed at 7am, I ran to the internet. The student was released unharmed and the boom I had heard was a gas explosion in an apartment building down the street. No one was hurt.

I can't wait for the weekend.