All that you have is your soul (Tracy Chapman).

Friday, 21 August 2009

Scotland And Its Braves

Dassi, Tali and I returned from Scotland last night. I'm not going to write much here, because I'm too exhausted....but I will say how strong an impression the country and its people have had on me.

In short, I absolutely loved the place. I have seldom met genuinely friendly people who went out of their way to help us, from the people in the street, to the lady we stayed with.

It didn't matter that the weather was awful because the welcome was so warm.

Do yourself a favour and visit Scotland - I know I shall!

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Friday, 14 August 2009

Parental CV

PARENT - Job Description

POSITION :

Mum, Mummy, Mama, Ma
Dad, Daddy, Dada, Pa, Pop

JOB DESCRIPTION :

Long term, team players needed, for challenging, permanent work in an often chaotic environment.
Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work variable hours,which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24 hour shifts on call.
Some overnight travel required, including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in far away cities!
Travel expenses not reimbursed.
Extensive courier duties also required.

RESPONSIBILITIES :

The rest of your life.
Must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily, until someone needs $5.
Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly.
Also, must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case,
this time, the screams from the backyard are not someone just crying wolf.
Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges,
such as small gadget repair, mysteriously sluggish toilets and stuck zippers.
Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects.
Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks.
Must be a willing to be indispensable one minute, an embarrassment the next.
Must handle assembly and product safety testing of a half million cheap, plastic toys, and battery operated devices.
Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.
Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end product.
Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.

POSSIBILITY FOR ADVANCEMENT & PROMOTION :

None.
Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining
and updating your skills, so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you

PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE :

None required unfortunately.
On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.

WAGES AND COMPENSATION :

Get this! You pay them!
Offering frequent raises and bonuses.
A balloon payment is due when they turn 18 because
of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent.
When you die, you give them whatever is left.
The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that
you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.

BENEFITS :

While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement,
no paid holidays and no stock options are offered;
this job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth, unconditional love,
and free hugs and kisses for life if you play your cards right.


** AND A FOOTNOTE 'THERE IS NO RETIREMENT -- EVER!!!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Hava Nagila Texas Style

Friday, 7 August 2009

Killing Off My Teenage Years

G-d has a peculiar sense of humour.

I can only think this as yet another of my teenage memories is brought out of the laundry basket that is my memory, washed at a high speed and then unceremoniously thrown back into the basket of long forgotten memories, only to be re-buried into my subconscious.

First it was the death of Michael Jackson and my reminiscing about hearing Thriller for the first time back in '82 and now I hear that John Hughes, director of a number of films that really spoke to my generation, dies at the criminally young age of 59.

What's going on here?

I am a child of the '80s, of Thatcher, Reagen, AIDS, Yuppies, Duran Duran and Dallas. I was also a teenager who remembers seeing films like The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Weird Science. These were our films, our years, our memories. These were also movies that talked to us as the '80s generation, in particular The Breakfast Club. I would love to say that Weird Science was more meaningful to me, granted the subject matter, but I wasn't that fortunate. I did however see it on a date and although sadly, I remember the film more than the girl, John Hughes was always there for us.

Teenage movies have been around from the '50s. Although I admire films such as Rebel Without A Cause and The Blackboard Jungle, I can't really relate to them from an experiential point of view. In the same way, I laugh out loud at some of the latest exponents of the genre (such as Superbad and the American Pie series), but they aren't about me.

I have never had experiences like Ferris Bueller or indeed the entire class of The Breakfast Club, but the knowledge that some of these kids were similar in age to me (even though I was placed at the younger end of the spectrum having been born at the end of the '60s) made the films seem all that more authentic. I could see where these guys, where the characters that Hughes created were coming from, burdened with the angst that so many of the us 1980's teenagers seemed to be burdened with.

It is not that often I feel a celebrity's demise so personally. John Hughes managed to tap into something that few others have been able to do and it is for this reason that his passing makes me feel bereft at this time.

Before John Hughes decided to target the younger audiences with films like Home Alone and Dennis the Menace, he thought about us and for that, I shall be eternally grateful to him. He may not have been the world's greatest director, but sometimes, the place you hold in other's people's hearts is determined by different factors.

Rest in Peace Mr Hughes and thank you for taking the time to try and understand us.
We shall remain forever your appreciative fans.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Exiting The Three Weeks

Anyone who has come out of the last three weeks, taking the (Jewish) religious element to heart will know how I feel right now.

In the past, I haven't really treated the Three Week period of mourning for the destruction of the Temples that seriously. Yes, I did the basics, such as not cutting my hair or attending a wedding (not that there were any of those to go to), but I still went out to the cinema and even attended some concerts (I was not going to miss Simon and Garfunkel's unique concert in Hyde Park for anything!).

What makes this year different is that I made a conscious effort to get into the spirit of the thing. Admittedly, I didn't stop listening to music until Rosh Chodesh Av, but that's because to me, music is so much more than just simple entertainment - it is the oxygen for my soul. I did however make a point of not going out to the cinema or buying new clothes (not that I do this much anyway). Still, it was a question of internalising the period and trying to get into the spirit of the twenty one days in a meaningful way.

What make this year different though is how I approached the Nine Days, which ran from the start of the month of Av until Tisha B'av (the 9th of the month) which is the saddest and most poignant day in the Jewish calendar. For the first time in many a year, I didn't shave. I also didn't listen to music (which in a way was the hardest thing to do - although I do usually abscond), but most importantly, at least to me, is that I tried my best to do as much as I could to conform with the laws pertaining to the occasion.

That said, there are certain things I always refuse to do during the Nine Days. I will not stop taking hot showers, because for me, these are less in issue of comfort, than a bare necessity. I also refuse to avoid washing clothes because, in a family of our magnitude, I can't believe that the good Lord above would want me to spend the week after the fast catching up with an Everest-like load of stinking, mucky washing.

I did the fast as I do every year and even spent the last few hours watching an amazing live web cast from the Beth Jacob shul in West Hollywood, where the extraordinary Rabbi Steven Weil talked for about three hours, without notes, in a brilliant monologue that brimmed with anecdotes and insights into the Kinnot (poems pertaining to the fast), the like of which I have never hitherto experienced.

I did all of this because I felt that it was something that I needed to be a part of - and I'm glad I did because the feelings of relief and spiritual satisfaction that I am now encountering could never have been realised had I not gone through the whole caboodle.

A friend of mine made a telling remark. He says that going through the period slowly dehumanises us (you see, A, I really do listen to you!), from the start of the Three Weeks, through the prohibitions of the Nine Days and ultimately into Tisha B'av when we remove the very requirements we need to sustain us (food and liquid) and find ourselves sitting on the floor in the Synagogue, with not much more than a prayer book (and in my case a mobile phone - because mourning can only go so far).
A very insightful comment, A. and one that I am totally in agreement with.

Now, it is all over and for me, the Summer has finally begun. It's just a shame that the sun doesn't seem to concur, because it feels as though Autumn is already here, granted the preponderance of rain and lack of sunshine (albeit on hold today, because it is beautiful out there!).

Going through the process of re-humanisation is a truly uplifting experience. I don't look forward to repeating the experiment next year, but when the time comes around again, I think I'll be more than ready.