My Blog List

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Israelis are used to look at things through the prism of "is it good for the Jews or is it bad?" and then decide what they think about it. Since I am also an Israeli my knee-jerk reaction to the latest upheaval in Egypt was thinking how it would affect Israel, was it good or bad for Israel? And since I can be very susceptible to the long-held belief that Israel's peace with her Arab neighbors is very fragile and unrest can quickly dissolve into another bloody war, I was leaning toward the thought that maybe this wave of discontent is not the best thing in the world. But then I thought, screw it, that's totally the wrong way to look at it. So I started looking at the pictures coming from the streets of Egypt and realized that what caught my eyes were not the pictures of riot police blocking protesters or the fires burning in Cairo or people carrying the wounded with terrified expressions on their faces, but the women. I was looking for the women. And I saw one picture of a young woman in jeans and a long sleeve sweater waving her arm in the air and shouting in anger; then I saw a picture of an older woman in a head scarf kissing a young bewildered green eyed policeman, and I was sold on the Egyptian revolution.

Egypt gave us one of the most amazing feminists in the world. Huda Shaarawi who came out of the harem and fought for women rights in 1920s Egypt, no less. She was the first to take off the veil and fight against the seclusion of women. Today, when I see the women of Egypt go to the streets along their male counterparts and demand their rights to free elections and free speech, all I can think of is Huda Shaarawi. I only hope that the women of Egypt will not fall into the trap women in Algeria fell during their fight for independence when they donned the veil as their symbol of freedom. I hope Egyptian women are smarter than that.

In Hebrew we call Egypt Mitzrayim. I come in contact with Mitzrayim once a year on the first night of passover when I pretend to read the Hagadda with my friends before we give up and go for the food. In Hebrew Mitzrayim means "straits" מצר or "narrow" צר or "trouble" צרה. In the context of Passover it can mean the literal story in which the children of Israel walked through the narrow straits of whatever hurdle they had to cross in their flight from their enslavers. For those of us who don't take the bible literally but as a literary text, it means a spiritual or emotional rebirth. After all, even an abstract birth canal can feel like a narrow strait.

The latest struggle of the Egyptian protesters is no different from the struggle of the children of Israel which we find in the Jewish Bible. Egypt has finally arrived at its breaking point, facing its own bottle neck, its own birth canal. The army and the police can suppress the movement with brute force, but not for long. Once the gini is out of the bottle it is very hard to shove it back in. The amazing discontent that has been unleashed on the streets of Egypt will be very hard to squash and silence, not in this evolving world of social media and constant agitation by AlJazeera. And bear in mind, Egypt lies right across from Europe, not buried deep in the Middle East like Iran or Yemen.

I think it's about time for the Egyptians to cross their narrow straits and come out free on the other side. I only hope they don't forget Huda Shaarawi when they claim their victory.

Monday, January 17, 2011

road kill

I drive more than 10,000 miles a year. Most of my driving is done in town, to work, to the grocery store, to my daughter's school, and to all kinds of extra-curricular activities. In the mornings, as I drive on highway 1 to work, the sun rises on the passenger's side, the ocean stretches on my left. It's a short drive I cherish every single time because the view is spectacular. Every morning the sunrise entertains me with different shapes of clouds and shades of blue and orange and yellow, the ocean tide performs a different dance of white caps above deep blues and grays and silver all the way to the horizon, and the skyline of the distant mountains shimmers in the morning haze.

And then I see the road kill.

Sometimes it's a squirrel, sometimes a raccoon. Here and there I see a skunk, a seagull, a snake or a lizard. Dogs and cats are rather rare on highways, but they don't escape the fate of their undomesticated peers. Death by a moving car is an equal opportunity provider. Wrong place, wrong time, unlucky move. Bang. Done and over with.

I hate to see these mutilated leftovers on the side of the road. Sometimes lying in the middle of the road. Especially in the morning hours. So many times I see something splashed beyond recognition on the asphalt. Was it a squirrel, a cat, a raccoon? I can't tell. Too many cars have already driven over it, it became a part of the pavement. Almost.

Many times I call animal control and ask them to come and pick up the dead, especially if the road kill lies in the middle of the road. That way even the vultures and the coyotes can't get to them, and the cars keep passing by as if these creatures had not walked the earth just a short while ago. I have the phone number of the animal control people on my automatic dial. I think it is the least I can do for these creatures. Give them some respect. It's not their fault we need to get places too fast to lean on the brakes when they manifest themselves in front of us, totally oblivious to the fact that a car is rushing full-speed toward them.

This evening as I was driving toward Monterey on highway 1, I saw on the side of the road a car lying on its roof in the grass. Just like that. As if someone had picked it up and turned it over. A police patrol car was parked next to it. A tow truck was parked on the other side. It was getting dark and the fog was very thick, hiding the damage done to that car. There were no emergency vehicles on the side of the road and the traffic was moving smoothly, so I assumed the accident had happened quite a while ago. I don't know what happened to the people who were in that car and I don't really want to think about it.

I only hope they did not become road kill like the skunk I spotted earlier when I was driving out of town.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

online dating

A friend of mine has recently asked me about online dating. She's never done it, she confessed, as she became a single mom only recently, and now she finds herself being pushed to try it by well-meaning friends. So I gave her some advice... Me, the online dating loser. I only hope I don’t make myself look totally pathetic, which is how I feel every time I succumb to the temptation of joining an online dating site. But I am jumping ahead of myself.

Here's a summary: Online dating sucks!!!
I once discovered a funny-sad blog written by a single father who answers to the name of David Mott. The man listed all kinds of online dating disasters he experienced. I read his stories with the notion of "know thy enemy," because this dad offered the male perspective. And let me tell you, it felt good to see that men, too, suffer when they venture into cyberspace to find true love.

Those who believe in online dating will tell you many success stories. I've heard some, too. I know people who met on these sites, got married, had children, and lived happily ever after to tell about it. But it's just like the lottery. There are so many more losers than winners.

So here I am, an online dating loser, telling an online dating virgin the do's and don'ts of this endeavor; something that most busy people don’t need to know, because why should anyone bother to learn that stuff. I'd rather learn to change the brake pedals on my car than how to upload a personal profile on a dating site or flirt online with total strangers.

My friend said she didn't want people to know that she was on a dating website. I told her that she didn't have to upload a photo, but then men would assume that she was ugly or married. She was horrified to find out that married women go online to look for adventure. She thought only men were capable of cheating. I was tempted to tell her that scientists using NASA equipment orbiting Mars found ice deposits on the red planet and it was time to wake up and smell the century she was living in.

After I gently brought her back to reality, I told her that most men first look at the photo and next, if you have enough boobs or legs or an enticing smile, they might check your height and weight, if the site asks for it. Of course, no one tells the truth about their weight. Some men write "athletic" if they weigh only 50 pounds above their recommended weight, otherwise they write "slender." Some will not upload their own photo if they have a slender nephew or cousin. Some uploaders will not even be men. Yet.
I was not sure what to say about age. My friend was convinced that all men were interested in twenty somethings. But that’s not true. Many men provide flexible age limits when it comes to women. Which is curious. They write that they will date women ages 18 to 59. And I'm like, "OK... humm... how do you do that? I'll date my daughter or my mother, doesn't matter. I can talk to both. Or maybe, I don't need to talk... I can make her happy... Because I'm so great."
Yup, that's what you're about to deal with, sweetie.
My friend was concerned about what to include in her profile. I suggested that she doesn't put too much information. It's not like you need to explain everything before you meet the guy. All you have to do is provide a blurb, a bait, just get noticed because without a picture it's a bit hard to get attention since men are visual animals, not too cerebral when it comes to women. But she doesn't want to mislead anyone, she said. Bless her heart. The innocence of online dating virgins is heartbreaking.
Here's something I tried once when the muse landed on me and I felt reckless and full of renewed hope. After explaining in three sentences the type of person I think I am, I added "looking for similar," to be completely clear. Underneath, I provided a couple of examples of what I considered similar. One of the examples was: "If you can talk in full sentences–that's similar."
I can't recall the number of "hi" responses I received. So I'm asking you, since when "hi" is a sentence? I thought sentences were supposed to have a verb in them.

After I gave my friend a few other tips, I told one of my more outrageous online dating escapades. Only to illustrate to her what a bad judge of character I am. Something an online dater should NEVER be under ANY circumstances.
You see, if a guy tells you that in his youth he lived under a bridge and spent time in prison for stealing cars to support his meth habit, you might want to consider not seeing him again. Even if he explains that he was self-medicating to manage his ADHD because his parents, the famous actors, barely noticed he existed. You should still not give him a pass just because he tells you about the rabbi who got him out of prison and into a halfway house where he could kick the habit, just to convince you that he is Jewish. Or after he shows you a copy of his latest blood test results to reassure you that he no longer has hepatitis B. You should just leave. But no, you think this is cool, because the guy has some fascinating stories to tell and he is not a bad writer and he becomes borderline funny after he smokes a few joints. And then you discover that he is into S&M when one day he asks you to take a photo of his back, and when he lifts his shirt you see blue bruises and bloody lines carved by whip lashes crisscrossing his tattooed back, and only then, finally, your brain kicks in, and you realize that if you don’t pretty much evaporate to a different dimension at this very moment, you will have to expect some serious intervention from those who care about you.

So if you give in to your pushy friends who think they are being helpful by telling you to go look for Prince Charming on the internet, make sure you know what’s you’re doing. Otherwise, do yourself a favor. Don’t upload a sexy photo of yourself, don’t share the story of your life and your real or imaginary body measurements with voyeurs, don’t respond to anonymous “hi’s” and don’t believe everything that people tell you .Use your computer and your brain for more productive undertakings. It will save you time and some embarrassment. Or, you might end up like me, with stories to tell and some thinking to do. But if you are not a writer, or me, you really don’t need this type of skeletons in your closet.