Filed under: Feelings, Hey!, Identity, Struggles | Tags: blockade, Flotilla, Sandra Bernhard
A lot can change in 24 hours. Sunday night I got to watch Rihanna perform in Jafo’s Bloomfield Stadium, and she was magnificent. The concert was part of a cool initiative called the Orange RockCorps. To score a ticket you had to do four hours of community service or know my friend Beth and get given a ticket for doing nothing. This was RiRi’s first time in Israel.
I had a stupendous time at the show. I almost didn’t make it! Beth told me RiRi was performing at Ramat Gan Stadium. I set out on my bike with plenty of time – dressed in “26-year-old drag.” My friend Ashley told me that the RockCorps tickets were only for kids ages 16-26. With bad lighting, sleep in your eyes and visual impairment, I can maybe appear 32-years-old; 26-y-o would be really pushing it (#understatement). But I wore a baseball cap and little O.P. corduroy shorts and gave myself a fresh, clean shave.
Google Maps on my BlackBerry got me there easily enough, and I realized the stadium (actually in Bnei Brak) was across from two skyscrapers where I had business meetings in the last few weeks. I was feeling that “more has been revealed” satisfying feeling that (unknowingly at the time) those meetings had helped familiarize me with this location to help me find the concert.
Except, major #Fail, b/c RiRi was not performing there at all. She was performing at Bloomfield Stadium in Yafo, which is basically the southern tip of Tel Aviv. Bnei Brak was like two towns over, north of Tel Aviv.
Fortunately, this whole country is the size of a peanut, and RiRi is Diva enough to never start the show on time, and I made it to the correct stadium about :10 minutes before she went on.
I passed for 26-years-old or, they just weren’t checking! I had a ticket to stand on the floor, which was fine b/c it was very close up. Even arriving as close to showtime as I did, I still was maybe 15 feet away from her when she came stage right. It was like I was babysitting or 15,000 teenagers, but it was fine.
Don’t you love it, when you remember to bring your camera and when you whip it out to take your first shot, you’re greeted with this message on the display: “CHANGE THE BATTERY PACK.” #Fail !!! Why doesn’t the camera have a gauge that shows you battery strength as you go along, but instead tells you nothing before – “Hey, doufus – I’m done. Change me.” #Fail !!! BlackBerry pics had to suffice, mainly of the video monitor, b/c cam was not high quality enough to get good shots of RiRi directly, close as I was.
Great show. Of course, I’m gonna find all the ways she was derivative of Madonna, but she really turned it out and rocked hard. It was really fun. Since I’m building my own business, I work *A LOT*, and it’s a real challenge to make myself get out for social activities. Seeing a big act like RiRi feels tangible to me, like I can point to it and feel – See, I do stuff.
Next day, late morning I see one of the new friends I’ve made from this crowd that’s really active on Twitter, Benji, tweet something like – “So sad, can’t stop watching the news.” Part of me thinks Uh-oh, what? , but I’m swamped as usual w/ work, and I don’t pay full attention. I can’t remember how long, but later that day the twitter chatter becomes loud enough that I realize something big has happened.
I’m trying to remember now what the first coverage I read was like – was it the US and global press accusing Israel of a “massacre of peace activists” or was it links from the people I follow on Twitter, who told a different story – that the IDF soldiers were “brutally ambushed by the terrorists at sea“?
The Ynet article really made me feel better – See, we’re not barbarians…we boarded the boat and *they* attacked *us* !! In an interesting twist, right afrter reading that article, the next tweet I see in Tweetdeck is from comedian/actress/author/personality/singer Sandra Bernhard – who I have adored ever since the mid 80’s, when she seemingly appeared on Late Night w/ David Letterman every few weeks. I remember thinking – Who *IS* this chick !?! I don’t know if Sandra was out then (I certainly wasn’t), but I was captivated by the way she clearly marched to her own drummer and seemed so much more authentic and original than the celebrities I was accustomed to seeing.
Anyway, so I’ve been a fan of hers for 25 years, and I read her tweet saying:
Not mean spiritied. Just a question – a *good* question. But in this environment – when, AGAIN it seems the world is unifiyingly holding Israel to an unfair security & self-defense double-standard…and yes, I was probably taking on some of these critical attacks on Israel personally…because Sandra is influential (and Jewish) and many people pay attention to what she has to say, I didn’t want her question to go unanswered or manipulated for another person’s purposes or change the opinion of someone still making up his/her mind up about what was still breaking news.
So, I answered her over Twitter:
And I included a hyperlink to the Ynet story I had read. Then, I continued working. I was still swamped, and flotilla or notilla, that hadn’t changed. When I checked Tweetdeck a little later, I saw that Sandra had answered me. While I had half-hoped she would, I certainly didn’t expect her to. Anyway, here is our conversation:
OK, so maybe it’s less of a conversation and really Sandra’s response to my tweet, and then my 3 replies to her, plus one re-tweet from my new friend @Jewlicious. (But if you remove the 140-character limitation, then – yeah, it’s her response, then mine, then me forwarding something.)
Anyway, I continued working, but of course that means checking both Facebook and Tweetdeck (and Atraf) every 5 seconds, and I came across a link to video posted by The Huffington Post, and it made Israel look just awful. A British Al-Jazeera reporter is giving a report from the deck of the raided flotilla boat. He mentions in his report that the flotilla was “carrying aid” when the “Israeli commandos descended upon it in International waters after surrounding it with ships from all sides” and mentions that on board the raided boat were “activists, parliamentarians, women, children and the elderly” and that “tens of people were injured, and there were still sounds of live fire despite white flag having been raised.”
I started feeling bad after watching this report. Not just – Oh, shit, this is *Bad* for Israel, but more like self-doubt, like – Oh, shit is this who we are? Are we barbarians? Am I in denial when I say the world is being unfair in its condemnation of us for what transpired? Are we really evil?
Another report I read on HuffPo had a pundit calling the incident “Israel’s Kent State” and a “massacre” and referred to those on the boat as “activists.” Head was starting to spin. Were they activists delivering aid, or terrorists attacking soldiers with metal rods? What was the truth ??
The HuffPo post was updated with video from the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) that showed the people attacking the soldiers when they first boarded the boat. This did a lot to reassure me – both that we had not perpetrated a massacre, and that more balanced coverage was making it’s way to American media, if not Europe.
Here is close-up of the same footage I found on the IDF’s YouTube channel:
I felt even more reassured when I read my friend David Hazony’s report. David is a writer and author on religion, Judaism, Israel, and the Middle East. From his piece I learned that the flotilla had written a press release in advance about the attack and were able to send it to news media around the world as soon as the incident occured. Premeditate much? David’s piece talked about the need to win the media war via press releases and Twitter, and I popped a PR boner. This is what I do, man !!! Maybe this is the reason I am here in Israel – I’m supposed to offer my PR and communications expertise (all in mother-tongue English) to the Israeli government and IDF and help us win the media war the next time.
I fired off a tweet to Sandra Bernhard, with a link to David’s piece. Then, I went to the gym to get rid of some of this anxiety and fat. But first, here are two exchanges with friends on Facebook. But are friends I love. One is Jewish, and she thanks me for “getting the truth out.” The other is not Jewish, but he lived in Israel before and loves Israel. But after the news coverage he saw, he had decided Israel and the IDF were in the wrong here, and he was condemning the IDF raid. Can you see why this was very confusing and heartbreaking for me?
I got my gym on. As I opened my locker to shower after, I saw that Sandra Bernhard had replied to me on Twitter! I was really happy about this. Because our conversation did not devolve into argument, but remained kind; other people could be following it over Twitter and having their thoughts on the incident broadened, and Sandra and I found some common ground in the end. Plus, I was able to get my starfuck on with a performer I have always enjoyed and admired.
Cool, right? Look, I didn’t know when I’d ever be talking to Sandra again, so I could not resist telling her about how I first became a fan. It’s like when I met Debra Winger while working on the red carpet of the Gotham Independent Film Awards and got to tell her the scene in ‘Terms of Endearment’ where she says goodbye to her kids is my favorite moment of cinema ever. I still didn’t get what Sandra meant about my response being disproportinate. But whatevs. This was still a cool thing on a lot of levels for me. Headed to a cafe to work for a few hours. Logged on and saw Sandra had responded!
Then, when I get home, I found out she had asked me what I do for a living here in Israel. Wow, I thought that was really nice.
I could have asked her what she meant by that. Israel is a democracy and all 7.1 million citizens have full rights and participate in government and society (not just the 5.6 million Jews), but it was almost 4am, and time for a few hours of sleep.
It’s a couple of days later now, and I was happy to see more examples of US media coverage that I thought was fair. Like, when Vice President Joe Biden appeared on Charlie Rose and defended Israel’s actions. And then, this wonderful opinion piece by Charles Krauthammer.
Almost finished, those of you who are still with me. Saw this last night. Superbly powerful parody/commentary of the Flotilla called “We Con the World” (like the 1985 USA for Africa single, “We Are the World”). I think it’s brilliant and the creative force behind it, Caroline Glick, is my new hero. Watch:
Alright, it’s Shabbat, my dog is dying to get outside, and I’ve been writing this post for more than four hours. Time to get cleaned up and head to Hilton Beach. I just knew I had to do a long post about my reaction to this international incident, though. Because I am an Israeli, but not a native one. I’m an American, too, and most of my friends live in America. America is more supportive of Israel than any other country, and American news media coverage of Israel is more balanced than most coverage in the world, which has a very anti-Israeli slant – maybe because the world views Israel as an illegitimate country who shouldn’t really be here at all. From my unique perspective as an Oleh Chadash (new immigrant) living in Israel for less than a year and a half, I am in between worlds, in a way. I live here. But I read American news via the New York Times, and links to US news sources sent around on Twitter and Facebook. I have friends in both countries. I dunno, it occurred to me that my reaction to this event was probably not the same as the average Israeli, and I wanted to document it (for me) and share it – in case there are other Olim who can relate to parts of it.
P.S. Here’s a good summary piece from NYT.
P.P.S. Footnote: that I have a friend in New York named Kevin, who works as a professional drag queen. His drag name?
As much as I love my dog, I was sticking to my “not allowed in the bed” rule. I just didn’t want to become the metaphorical “Crazy Cat Lady” – you know, the guy who sleeps with his dog.
[Sidebar: people are really divided on this issue! When I posted about it on Facebook, there was a strong Of course you let them into the bed! camp and just as emphatic No! They are dirty animals! posters.]
But anyway, I was SO stressed leading up to my concurrent move and job change that I couldn’t take the pressure, and I invited him in. I have to say, cuddling w/ Pete is pretty wonderful. Like a live-action teddy bear! But, you know, he sheds so badly, that after one night, the bed looked like a crackhouse.
Then, of course he began to think the bed was his, too. So, I’d get up from the computer to get a drink or something, and he’d be nowhere to be found…until I peered into the bedroom and found:
Then, we moved, and I haven’t gotten my loft bed immediately, so he continued sleeping w/ me in the bed in our new place – and lounging on it behind me while I worked (totally sprawled out like that famous Marilyn Monroe centerfold (wish I had a real pic).
[photo courtesy of Robert Roberts]
Anyway, last week I was out at the dog park w/ Petey, Jeremy, Samadar & Merlin (dog), and said to Samaderemy – I really can’t wait until I get my loft bed. The bed is just so disgusting with dog hair and bits of bone from Petey chomping in there, I can’t stand to sleep in there anymore, it’s disgusting. Jeremy countered w/ Why wait? Kick him out tonight. I felt so guilty though! I knew Petey wouldn’t understand, and he’d be like Wha- WTF – what’s happening? What’d I do? Why? Why ??? And I’m sensitive, and I didn’t him to feel this way and be racking his little dog brain and shiz. But then Jeremy Yoda said, Are you gonna give him a bath tonight? I’m like, No, why? And he’s like, ‘Cause look at him! [Petey was chasing a few dogs and rolling around w/ them in the dirt in the dog park.] Look where he is and what he’s doing – you’re really gonna let that into your bed tonight? That settled it – NO. Sorry, sleeping-w/-your-dogs camp, even if I’m 49% with you, I”m 51% OCD/Miss Priss/no way!
So, I kicked him out, and he reacted as I expected he would – not understanding at all. That first night, even though I’d moved his dog bed next to my bed, I’d keep waking up to discover he had climbed in with me, and I had to yell and throw him out. Other times, I would turn around from the PC where I was working, or walk back into the room to find him sprawled out on the bed, Marilyn-style. Pete, no !!
So, this week, I bought him a new dog bed. This way, his old one can remain in his crate, which I’m locking him in when I leave the apartment (even though he had free reign in the old place; there is just too much stuff on the ground and not packed away here yet; too much for him to eat and destroy), and he has a nice, new, bigger one next to mine for when I’m working or sleeping. I can lean over and pet him and let him lick my face. He loves it, and that’s the end of this story.
No, this pic doesn’t explain why there ain’t been no G-Fish posts in like 4evah. But I am using this pic b/c this post has to be kind of cryptic. Or else it could be, like, evidence. In a court of law. I’m not kidding.
A couple of weeks ago, there was a situation where I had to be out of my apartment every day at 6:30 a.m. – with the dog – and stay out until like 5:00 p.m. To make it worse, I came down with my first cold since moving to Israel. The positive thing about that is that I’ve been here 13 months and hadn’t even gotten a single cold. The crappy thing was the timing couldn’t have sucked more. Imagine being stuffed up with body chills and having to be up at the crack of dawn w/ all your work for the day and enough supplies to keep a dog happy (water bowl, treats) for, like 12 hours. And have no place to go crash in the daytime. I went to a client’s office and worked. It blew.
Anyway, that was then. I’m back home, and soon I will be moving.
I’ve got a lot of major changes coming at me all at once. I’m starting to look for a new place, hoping to move out on April 30. And I had a fantastic new business meeting last week that could bring me a lot of new work.
This is good stuff. I put together my first PowerPoint presentation on how companies can use Facebook and Twitter, and I killed with it. I’ve been asked to put together a proposal for next week, where I would do monthly social media trainings for this company’s clients – and be available to do social media implementation work for their clients.
This is fabulous, but I’m mostly just interested in the monthly trainings. Even if a small % of their clients decide I was so impressive during a training that they want me to handle their Facebook/Twitter/Linkedin pages – say, 10 out of 138 – that’d still be a lot of new work all at one. Too much? And too much of the same kind of client – nonprofits – when I’d also like some fun, pop-culturey, commercial ones.
I’m all for replacing the remaining bit of work I’m letting go from my main nonprofit client when I stop working with them in May – but I might want to be more selective with who I replace them with. Let self-belief drive a little while and give fear a rest.
The good news is all these changes are temporary. In May, I’ll have a more stable roster of clients, and I’ll be living and working in my apartment by then. But for the time being, I’m just in major flux – with two twin-biggies: housing and working. Even though I know it’s temporary, I’ve still gotta hang on for dear life right now.
I kinda love ’em, kinda hate ’em – I’m speaking of a certain type of Israeli friend – The Pusher. I like these women – two dog friends from the neighborhood, Tali and Fanny – but sometimes when I see them coming, I’m like Ugh!
Why? Because they always speak to me in Hebrew. They know I’m an Anglo and struggling with my Hebrew, and that’s precisely why they do it. It’s totes done out of a desire to help me succeed.
But I just kinda hate it. Look, my attitude is – I’m doing fine w/ my Hebrew. I’m only here one year. I worked hard in language school my first six months to get a base in Hebrew, and even though I’ve forgotten quite a bit of it, it is just under the surface and will quickly come back (I think) when I continue w/ Hebrew night school later this spring. I’m surprising myself by being able to speak whole sentences to people sometimes. I’m at a level where I prefer that you let me speak “Hebrish” to you, and you answer me in English.
But when Tali and Fanny speak to me full-on in Hebrew, the perfectionist in me just hates that I have to struggle like an idiot speaking with them for a few sentences in Hebrew before totes lapsing into English. It’s really that “giving up” part that I hate; I hate failing. So, I feel like – Ugh! Why are you bothering!? We both know I can’t really do this – converse fluently in Hebrew – , so you’re just making me feel bad about myself. So, stop !!
Today I started a new practice at the dog park. While Pete plays, I’m taking vocabulary from last year’s Hebrew notes and writing them into a blank address book. I’m filing them under the English word, and then writing the Hebrew word below it.
Honestly, for only beginning to learn this very different language, I think I’m doing just fine after one year. ליאת, ליאת.
I’ve been mobile-golden for a while now, having put the last of the BlackBerry in Israel problems behind me last August. But the Bold 9000 I bought used from another Oleh back in December has had trackball problems since I got it. These were getting worse throughout February, to the point where it would refuse to roll in a certain direction, making it difficult or impossible to navigate to applications or within them.
I followed the advice I found in the forums on CrackBerry.com – like using a toothbrush on it or vigorously rubbing it upside down on a table, but these fixes only worked temporarily, leaving me with the same problem reoccurring.
Finally, disaster struck. I pulled the BB out of my pocket to use it, and pressing it no longer opened up applications!
Srsly, Girl. The thing was instantly useless. I couldn’t set my alarm to wake up in the morning, couldn’t look up your address, send you an SMS, use my camera, surf the internet, Tweet or nuthin’!
Knowing the next step of using a micro-screwdriver to open the thing up and clean the ball from the inside was way beyond me, I did the next best thing: wedged a thumbtack underneath the ball and dug around. When that didn’t work, I pried off the buttons around it, removed the ball and cleaned it myself. But when I tried to apply pressure to the area that should have been activated by the pressed trackball, the BB wasn’t responding either. It appeared the circuitry underneath the ball was fried, too. (It actually probably wasn’t; it turns out it’s magnets – not pressure – that makes it work). But if it wasn’t already broken, then I did the trick when I repeatedly pressed a screwdriver against the area attempting to make it work.
Crap – with impending moving expenses coming up and some bullshit housing tax (arnona) that had gone unpaid for months and needed to be taken care of (thanks to miscommunication by my suitemate and landlord), I did not have the budget to buy a whole new gadget.
Was this time to seize the moment and upgrade to the holiest of holy grails….
Ugh, not now! I know I’ll wind up with one of these or an as-good Android device sooner or later, but the timing was all wrong. I’m such an addictive personality, that once I had this new toy EVERYTHING ELSE WOULD HAVE TO STOP. I’d isolate for 4-5 days and just trick the thing out with a billion and one apps to make my life easier, possibly bankrupting myself in the process if I didn’t find what I needed in the free apps. With a small business to get off the ground, there was no time for this. Yet, knowing myself, it was something I was powerless to stop. If I bought it, it would happen.
So, maybe I’d just buy a new BlackBerry, then feel buyer’s remorse for not joining the ranks of iPhone snobs.
Well, fortunately, neither of those things had to happen. Bestie Anna suggested I try and repair it first. (She reads a lot of books.) I don’t know how this happened, but I managed to find the perfect shop in all of Tel Aviv to go. See, since I purchased my BB used, I wasn’t entitled to tech support or service from my wireless carrier, although I could have still tried them and seen if they’d accept payment for support. I wanted to try an indie shop first, but not one where I’d have some gum-popping adolescent not knowing what the eff to do and rolling their eyes.
By some miracle, I wound up at an indie shop staffed by techies and experts, who knew BBs inside out and knew how to repair this thing. I worried it may have been fixable at first, but that I’d done so much damage to it after it broke, rendering it unfixable. Fortunately, not. These guys really were geniuses, and in only 24 hours (and a few false alarms, where I left the store w/ it “fixed” and had to go right back inside, b/c it wasn’t quite working perfectly yet), I was back in business.
300 shekels ($80) for this. Def worth it !!!