Category Archives: random

Express Yourself: Reveal Rather Than Mask

Since the age of two, my four-year-old daughter has been obsessed with Spiderman. On rainy days, she proudly sports her Spiderman umbrella, her last two birthday cakes have both featured Spiderman, and given an opportunity to dress up (either at home, a friend’s house, or at a gymboree), she will opt for the Spiderman/superhero costume rather than more girlish choices. Her only exposure to Spiderman has been indirect through friends at daycare and kindergarten. We don’t have satellite TV or cable, and she has no siblings who have ever shown any interest in Spiderman.

Tzofia first discovered Spiderman two years ago, during a trip to the States. We spent one rainy morning at a local gymboree, where there was a dress-up area with an array of costumes. Tzofia was instantly drawn to the Spiderman costume, and asked to put it on. Up until that point, she had been exclusive to Tigger and Dora. Once dressed up as Spiderman, she jumped up and down, started growling, and began chasing her older sister around the room. When we asked her why she was growling, she said that she wanted to be “scary like Spiderman.”  We found it both interesting and amusing that her perception of Spiderman was that of a scary and intimidating figure, and since that day, has maintained that character when dressed up as him. Perhaps her image of Spiderman as being scary and “bad” gives her an outlet for any pent-up anger or frustration she is feeling.

A couple of months ago, when we were blessed with a couple of rare but welcome rainy days here in Israel, Tzofia left the house excitedly, more because of the opportunity the rain afforded her to use her Spiderman umbrella. When we arrived at gan, a few girls standing by the door chanted (in Hebrew): “Spiderman is for boys!” I have to say that one of my proudest moments occurred right then when Tzofia marched proudly right past the girls, and hung up her umbrella next to her friends’. I prayed to myself that for the rest of her life she should be as confident in her individuality as she was right at that moment.

With the onset of Purim, our family conversations have inevitably centered around Purim costumes, and Tzofia asked us if Spiderman is only for boys. At some point our free-spirited and strong-willed four-year-old became aware of her surroundings, and somehow internalized the message that Spiderman isn’t every girl’s cup of tea. Our heavily weighed answer was: “Spiderman is for whoever likes him.” I thought hard about Tzofia’s question afterwards. My instinct was to encourage her to stay loyal to Spiderman, regardless of what the girls around her say or do, but upon further thought, I realized that perhaps her question indicated emotional maturity and awareness of her environment. However much we want to encourage her individuality, it is inevitable that at some point she will have to make the choice whether her form of self-expression comes with too heavy a price. And that is part of growing up. Also, is it fair to encourage her to be Spiderman when we all know that kids can be cruel, and she may be the butt of her friends’ jokes?  Fast-forward two weeks later, and Tzofia’s choices ranged from Spiderman to a bear (“because bears scare people more”) to Ironman – to finally Superman. She ultimately decided to stay with the superhero.

My first reaction to these changes of heart was frustration, till it dawned on me that Purim for children represents one day of the year when they can reinvent themselves before their family, their teachers, their friends; that Purim is not just about disguising themselves and putting masks on, but rather taking them off, giving those around them the ability to see them how they want to be seen. A vehicle for self-expression. On this day, when children can parade the streets in their mask, tutu, or superhero costume, they are subconsciously teaching themselves that they can be whoever they want to be. There are no limitations other than those they set for themselves.

A dark day for Pandora lovers

Save Internet Radio!If, like me, you live outside the US, and rely on pulsating Pandora music to get you through the long work days and nights, you will understand my disappointment. The future of Internet radio is in grave danger. You can read about what is going on here. We in Israel are not able to do much (Israelis? Helpless? Never.), but if you are in the US, click on the image on the left, and find out how you can fight the battle to preserve Internet radio.

I and probably thousands of others outside the US received an email from the Pandora founder yesterday saying that they are no longer able to provide access to Pandora’s streaming service for most countries outside of America. Wunderbar. Yet another way we are screwed by living in Israel.

I was telling Josh about it over breakfast this morning, and he was quick to point out that the beauty of the Internet is that as soon as one service stops, another springs up it in place. He suggested that I do a Google search for “Pandora replacement.” Actually, he was wrong. I did a search for “Pandora replacement,” and nothing came up. Just reviews of “joint replacement surgery.” I guess it’s back to listening to my mp3 player.

Ray Bradbury

We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?

I came across this quote today from Ray Bradbury on my Google homepage, and it reminded me how much I enjoyed reading Fahrenheit 451 in high school.  In general, I don’t enjoy reading science fiction – although I have to confess that Josh has introduced to me the joys of Robert Heinlein – but I remember being very moved by this book in a similar way that I was moved by his quote above. It forces you to think out of the box, to confront the reality of our world, and to take a long, hard look at oneself in the mirror.

In Fahrenheit 451, a book-burning fireman goes through a crisis of conscience. In the world he occupies, the appearance of happiness is more important than the actual pursuit of it. His wife pressures him to work harder burning books so she can buy yet another TV for their home. Independent thought is discouraged in this world, and real emotion is to be avoided at all cost. (Sound familiar?) The fireman begins to see the error of his ways when his sixteen-year-old neighbor, who is enthralled by books and is curious about the world, mysteriously disappears. He begins to hide books in his home so as to avoid burning them, but he is discovered, and ends up joining an outlaw band of scholars who commit the contents of their books to memory, waiting for the time society will once again welcome the wisdom of literature.

He writes:

Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs…. Don’t give them slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy.

In the day-to-day grind of our existence, we get so caught up in the here- and-now that we often lose sight of ourselves and the world around us. When we ask an acquaintance on the street a casual and breezy, “How are you?”, how many of us really want to stick around to hear the answer? Our financial situation, our social status, our appearance – these are often the concerns that dominate our thoughts and hearts; not reading between the lines, looking behind our friend’s plastered smile to see what is really going on beneath the surface.

We are so busy all the time that there is no time left in our chaotic lives to just “be.” I don’t think that people even know anymore what it is that makes them happy – they may provide a stock answer – like a good career or a comfortable lifestyle – but if you unravel the many layers, are we really happy?

 Do we have a duty to the world to care what is going on, or should we leave that burden to people who are actually paid to care? I recall last summer during the Lebanon war walking the streets of Modi’in, and thinking to myself, “You would never know, to look at people’s faces, that there was a war going on.” I remember one day feeling extremely depressed about the war, and someone I know came over to me, and seeing that I was visibly upset, asked me if everything was okay. I told her that I just couldn’t get what was going on out of my head. She responded, “It can’t be that bad, right? I mean, you’ll be able to move into your new place soon, won’t you?” She automatically presumed I was referring to the fact that we were waiting at that time to move into our new apartment, not the fact that people up north were being ousted from their homes, forced to uproot themselves, because of the horrors of war. I was in shock.

On a less somber note, it is my Hebrew birthday coming up in a few days – woohoo – and I have to think of a fun and exciting activity to celebrate with my hubby the last year of my twenties. If anyone has any suggestions for a fun night out – preferably either in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv – that doesn’t involve eating out or bowling, let me know. My husband loves to eat out, so his suggestions always involve restaurants. We want to do something a bit different this year. Thanks!

How the mighty have fallen

It’s a very sad day when your husband has to be the one to nominate you for the JIB (Jewish and Israeli blogs) Awards, but nominate me he has  – so, roll up your sleeves and start voting for me here! The nomination is for the category “Best Slice of Life in Israel Blog.” To those of you who I made fun of in recent years for allowing yourself to get involved in these awards, I apologize. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

Future history

Funky title for a blog, no? Well, it’s my husband’s blog, so head on over there and check it out. He wrote here on this site a month ago with a guest post that was, in my opinion, hysterical if not a little heretical. The title was “God is a mob boss.”

I know I am probably not the most impartial person in the world, but I always love reading his writing because he writes exactly how he speaks. And if you were to listen to him speak, you would realize why that is  so amazing. Anyway, enough blarney. I guess that’s what happens when your father is an Irishman.

AidelMaidel is engaged!

Okay, perhaps there is something weird about me taking out some tissues when I read the news on AidelMaidel’s blog that she said “yes” to “Mr. Sky High.” I don’t know the woman, for heaven’s sake. Yet here I am crying with tears of joy for this ultra-Orthodox single mother of two.

A while ago, I was talking to a friend about the phenomenon of blogging, and I told him that I read two or three blogs (or six or seven) everyday. The guy was gobsmacked. He thought it was very strange – almost voyeuristic – that I took such an interest in the lives of strangers. Well, the way I see it, it is better than shedding tears over some brainless soap opera that is 100% fiction.

AidelMaidel has, up until this point, suffered a lot in her life: she was the victim of child abuse, and was left virtually penniless after divorcing her husband just a few years ago. I admit to following religiously her trials and tribulations as she went on a series of blind dates with no-hopers, and I rooted for her when she finally met Mr. Sky High (all her dates have been given aliases on the blog). Theirs has not been a long courtship; they started dating less than three months ago (anyone who knows me will realize the irony of this statement, considering Josh and I only dated for six weeks before getting engaged), and today AidelMaidel announced on her site their engagement.

The funny part is that her readers have lately been expressing their concern about her relationship with Mr. Sky High, and the speed at which it was progressing. They feared that she was rushing in to the relationship, and after the debacle of her first marriage, she should be more cautious. I found AidelMaidel’s response to her readers’ expressions of concern very amusing:

I am surprised how many of you commented and emailed me in regards to the Baker’s Dozen post about Mr. Sky-High.

I would like to remind all of you that you only get the information that I give you. What I don’t share here means you don’t know about it. Out of deference to Mr. Sky-High’s right to privacy, and my great respect for him, I don’t share all the gory details of our dates. After 14 dates that average 5 hours a piece, I think I know him significantly better than the readers of my blog, since you only get klalim in regards to him, and I actually know the person.

You also seem to forget that I am not going into this blindly. There were extensive reference checks on Mr. Sky-High before I even agreed to go out with him. There are rabbis, rebbetzins and a shadchan who are all consulted after every date. It’s not like this is some guy I picked up in a bar two days ago and am agreeing to marry him. It’s also not like my parents arranged this match, I meet him once, and BAM, we’re married.

Is Mr. Sky-High perfect? Nope.
Is he everything that I said I wanted in a husband? Almost.
Can I live with the things that he isn’t because he does have the things I truly need? Yes.

I’ve already been in one bad marriage. (Of which, you guys don’t know the details either – you don’t know why it went wrong and what I did to make it work over the years.) I’m not interested in repeating it. I’m going into this with my eyes WIDE open. I know what Mr. Sky-High’s good points are and I know what areas he needs to improve upon. The question is, can I live with those areas that need improvement? Yes, I think I can.

That being all said, Mr. Sky-High is completely different from any man I’ve ever dated. I have always had terrible taste in men, and have always gone for men who were bad boys or simply bad for me. Mr. Sky-High is a boring, straight-forward, nice guy. That’s why I didn’t want to go out with him again after the first date. Thank G-d, my rebbetzin pushed me to go again, because there was simply no reason not to.

And as I’ve discovered, Mr. Sky-High while a boring, straight-forward, nice guy, is also probably the only man I’ve met with real, true passion. Because it’s passion based on a love for another person instead of a passion based on narcissistic self-love. And it’s something deep, profound, and not something easily put into words. I see he cares for me very deeply and cherishes me for me – for who I am, imperfections and all.

Do I know how much longer this is going to take, until we both feel ready? I have no clue. Only Hashem knows if and when. Until that time, feel free to give me your advice – just don’t expect me to take it.

She’s right. She definitely calls the shots in deciding which information to share with her readers, but – and I open up this question to all of you – on the other hand, if she is revealing the details of her personal life on a blog, is she not leaving herself open to people’s comments, opinions (you know, two Jews – three opinions), and unwanted pieces of advice? If she was just blogging for cathartic purposes, why not keep a journal in a Word file, where it is safe from nosy individuals?

That being said, her engagement is really great news, and I wish her and her fiance many happy and healthy years together, whether shared on the blogosphere or not.

  

Something you don’t see everyday in Modi’in

Just when we were beginning to say our final goodbyes to winter in Israel, G-d delivered a surprise. It hailed today. Yes, hail. Here’s some pics of our backyard and my husband’s hand. (You can’t beat bumming around working from home – you get to take pics of your garden in the middle of the day.)

hail1
hail2

Just three days ago, it was 80 degrees outside – now it is snowing. No wonder I’m feeling sick. Oh well. The change in climate at least gives us Brits something to talk about.