Monday, October 23, 2006
However, regardless of whether I am a traveller or someone meeting a friend, my favourite thing about airports is the Arrivals lounge. I could sit for hours watching people greeting their friends, family and loved ones returning from their holidays, or flying in for a visit. The little old man arrives in to visit his son from England, expecting to find a shed for an airport and people walking around in funny clothes looks relieved if not warn out. The good-looking guy deep grin swaggers towards his girl-friend waiting with kisses and hugs... he has missed her. My favourite game, which I am useless at, is trying to figure out which arriving flight the strangers I see came from. Thankfully Amman is on the list as I would have got them all wrong!
As we stand waiting for Eli’s family and my friend to step through the doors, we control our excitement with this game, and turning around to stare at the beautiful guy behind us, trying to work out if he was there to meet a friend, family or a girlfriend… we were praying for family. It then occurred to us that an airport is a great place not just to pick up your friends and family members, but it is a great place to pick up some talent. The place is swarming with good looking people, only perhaps slightly on the pale side from the harsh lighting… or maybe it is just that I have already lost my summer glow… either way, one thing I am not a fan of at the airport. In the large arrivals lounge our game moves from guessing where they are from to ‘Are they really that good looking close up.’ For the most part I think I have the better taste of the two and decided that none of the guys arriving in were as worthy as the guy stood behind. But just as the voice of my more forward friends popped into my head saying ‘Give him your number,’ I saw a familiar face coming through the doors and heading to the opposite exit to where I was standing.
Forget tall beautiful man and time to hop. Skip and jump over people and their luggage. My friend, one of my best friends from England who had no idea I was coming to give him a kiss hello, finally noticed me stood grinning in his path and burst into a grinning, jumping, spring-back hug landing in perfect form on my right foot. Love is painful! Once we controlled ourselves and stopped hugging each other, I noticed the tall beautiful man was not looking in my direction anymore… “Wait… He is not my boyfriend! He is married for goodness sake! And I am not the right sex for him anyway!” But we had no time for fantasy explanations to my fantasy lover. We were on a mission of phone cards and making sure that Eli did not forget about me in her excitement to meet her mother, sister and splodge.
I suddenly flashed back to all the greetings my brother and I would share with our parents when visiting them in Israel. I remember the old terminal with the old arrivals lounge with the giant screen on the wall so people could see you coming before you walked out into the arrivals hall. I remember feeling not only greeted by my family, but also by all those strangers stood with banners and balloons in hand for their loved ones. I remember my final arrival into Israel; my family stood welcoming me home.
I remember my final departure from England. I remember my brother saying goodbye. I remember my brother, usually so in check of his emotions, hugging me and crying, while thrusting money into my hands for CD’s. I remember standing there, hugging him and saying goodbye and already planning in my head when I would go back to England to see him, and when he, my sister in law and the kiddies would be coming to Israel to see me. Now two years on, I have no date in my head. I have been and come back. He has visited and gone back to England, and now you ask me when I am next going to England and I have no idea… and that makes me sad. But I am determined it will be soon… so to all my favourite people in England, please note that I am thinking of you all, that I miss you all so much, that I am planning coming home to see you, and I am thinking of the Arrivals lounge.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Now two years on, people have stopped asking the question, perhaps this is because I am still here… I survived the first year of bureaucracy and came out the other side. I survived the second year of job searching, flat hunting and roommate swapping, and I am still here living and breathing with a job, an apartment and great friends. I no longer get the question of “Why did you do it?” and more the question of, “Why do you not speak Hebrew?” I find it funny that they ask me this question in English… I think they pretty much answer the question themselves just in the asking.
My weekend was a long one, starting on Thursday night in Jerusalem at a wedding of an old Ulpan friend. It was a beautiful wedding, set on the hills of Jerusalem under a canopy that the bride had sewn herself. Gypsy musicians on stilts walked the tiny bride and groom to their Chupah where she gave herself to him, he placed a ring on her finger, they drank the dangerously red wine without spilling a drop on her stunning wedding dress, and successfully smashed the glass to a round of applause and L’Chaim! My ‘girlfriend’ Eli and I found that we had finally been put in our rightful place… on the cool table for a change right next to the dance floor! It was so nice to catch up with a couple of the dudes from Ulpan, and avoid the psycho American Army guy who used to freak me out with his tales on how he knew how to shoot to kill. It is nice to see how everyone has found their place here and are creating their lives afresh in the country they have chosen to call home. Relatives visiting Israel for the first time from the States were in awe at the beauty of the venue, the relaxed atmosphere, and the fact that their siblings had found such ‘great people’ as friends and confidants in their new home. I was therefore not surprised by a phone call on the way home… it is easy to miss someone when you are reminded how great they actually are. Kinda sad that it takes the words of others for you to suddenly realise that.
Anyway, back in Tel Aviv a weekend of Oestrogen lay ahead and all things considered it was a pretty smooth and enjoyable Shabbat for all. On Saturday lunch four new girls joined our meal and it was actually nice to have some fresh blood around the table. Ok so a couple of the new girls were a joy to have around… the others… well lets just say that telling a group of new Olim that you are “privileged enough not to HAVE to make Aliyah” really does not make you very endearing. In fact this naïve little American chick was pretty lucky that despite walking into the lions den waving a piece of meat, the lions were all too tired and overfed to rise to her bate… Although the thought of swatting her like a fly did pass our minds. As one person who had been dealing with maggots all day I was not really in the mood for a pesky fly… she would find herself caught in her own spider web one day with such talk. Let the spiders sort her out.
After Shabbat we found ourselves out again at another roof top party. I was expecting a glass of wine and an early night, and at first that was exactly what I got. However, the roof began to fill up with people, the music was raised a notch, and people were beginning to forget about work in the morning and have a good time. It could have been the alcohol, it could have been the excellent tunes provided by DJ Howie, it could have been more of the alcohol, but on behalf of those of us who lay low on the brew I would like to thank the man who put a permanent smile on my face for the whole evening.
Ely, I am sorry that I never got to speak to you, to find out anymore than your name and take this picture. I would love to know if the moustache is real or if it is a dare you had going with your friends. I would love to know if your father and your brothers have the same moustache and it is in fact a family tradition handed down from generation to generation. I would love to ask if you have ever auditioned for the Village people. I would love to ask if you have a special comb for it. I would love to ask if you dye it or if that is it’s real colour… if it is in fact real. And for the other guys at the party, the ones trying to get the attentions of the girl on the sofa who was engrossed in a Chemistry lesson (no that is not a euphemism) and failing, the ones stood around the edge of the balcony staring desperately without making a move, the ones hoping that someone would notice them… Take a tip from our friend Ely... You wanna stand out, you wanna be noticed, you want women clamouring to find out who you are (without having serious surgery on your nether regions) and take pictures of you… Get a funny moustache! Ely we love you!!!
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Before I went to sleep last night I stayed up for a while talking to Nooman; one eye on the football and one sympathetic eye listening to my sadness and long arms wrapped around me. I decided that as nice as this was and as much as I appreciated his words of love and sympathy I needed to retreat to myself and sort my own head out. Knowing it all is a disease. I know what people are going to tell me. I know the right and wrong things for me. I know what will and what will not make me happy… but ultimately when the tears start to flow, the tears start to flow and nothing I do and nothing I know will stop the voices in my head.
“What are you doing this for?”
“What do you expect? To be perfect?? No-one is perfect! Not even you Miss Boo.”
“You will fail.” “You should give up.”
And then Nooman silences them, makes the tears flow faster, and says, “You know that you are more than this. You know that you have more to offer than just this. You are more fun to be around, you have more personality and spark… You are special.” But the trouble is that right at that moment I did not feel very special… I felt like the humus of the Middle East and not the variety with the herbs and pine kernels, but the plain old dry mushy kind that was left in the fridge too long.
I kissed my boo goodnight and walked to my room and collapsed into bed. I put the duvet back on the bed this week, and as the fan blared over my head I snuggled under the covers, closed my eyes, put the voices on mute and drifted into sleep.
I dreamt I was falling and as I fell I realised that I was in fact not falling, but sinking in clear blue water. I drifted, watching the bubbles from my mouth float upward. Around me were long stemmed seaweeds shooting endlessly upwards to the unreachable surface. In every leaf of the plant I saw eyes gazing at me. It seemed so beautiful at first, so I did not freak out that I was sinking further and further down and had no idea where the surface was. Blue finned sharks swam above my head, but I was not afraid. On the contrary I watched them envious… why had I not been born a shark? My old doll Mary floated up alongside me, and I stroked her curly hair one last time before she carried on to the surface. I was not ready to follow her up... it was so beautiful in the deep blue.
I opened my eyes and my room was bright with sunlight. I looked at my clock to see my alarm was not due for another hour. So I lay back wide-eyed listening to the sounds of Tel Aviv waking up outside my window, and tried to decide what to wear for a wedding tonight.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Anyway, I am at my desk, looking at my msn for someone worthwhile to disturb at work, when another guy friend calls me for a chat and to book me in for tomorrow. This friend, a true hippy, is forever spouting on about Universal Energies and Positive Energies and despite the fact that he claims to have given up the green stuff, I am not so sure… but today I was somehow willing to listen. Apparently today, October 17, 2006, is a day where the Universal alignment is as such that any positive energy you put out there will come on you 1000 fold. Now I am not someone who is usually into these things… actually that is a lie, I am totally gullible and love being told that if I forward this on to 5 people then my wish will come true in 5 days! But regardless of the fact that I am a total mug for these things I do feel that there is something to it.
The world is made up of energies bouncing around; colliding into one another, creating new energies… why is it therefore so strange to think that if we add a few more positives to the mix then some of them might not land back on our plate, knocking the negatives out of the way. Yes I am imagining the energies as bowling balls! But seriously, it is like your friends. When I am pouring energy into my friends they always seem to in-turn pour energy into me. This is the same for any relationship you have… well other than the ones where it seems like you a pouring the good stuff into a black hole.
I once heard a story that pretty much sums this up from a Jewish perspective:
A young couple who were about to be married, but were nervous of how it would work as they both came from failed marriages, went to see a therapist to ask for advise on how to make a marriage work. The therapist told them that marriage is all about ‘give and take’.
While preparing for their wedding they went to see the Rabbi who would be marrying them and told him what the therapist had said. The Rabbi looked at the young couple and smiled, “Marriage is not about giving and taking. Marriage is about unconditionally giving to another person.” The young woman turns to the Rabbi and asks “But Rabbi how do you know that your needs are being met?” The Rabbi smiles again (Rabbi’s have a habit of smiling) and says, “Because when you are both giving you do not need to be concerned with gaining… When you are both giving to each other then automatically your needs will be met.”
We as humans spend too much time wondering what we are going to get out of things. If my boss asks me to do a project I wonder am I going to get the credit?/ will this go towards my end of year pay review? In work this is totally justified, to my way of thinking anyway, but we have let it spread to our personal lives, and I am finding more and more this ‘tit for tat’ mentality entering relationships. In some ways it is fair enough. You feel like you are the one making all the effort and getting nothing in return. I guess it comes down to a choice; you can either give without the concern of your needs being met, or you can cut them out of your life… There is a difference between an energy source and a black hole.
Anyway, in the event that today is a special day where the energies are more pliable and willing to go where you want them to go, I am just a messenger sending out a notice that between the hours of 10am October 17, 2006 until 1am October 18, 2006 there is an energy free for all taking place in a city near you… and all you have to do is just let it out there!
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Today I put on trainers to work and slide the flip-flops under the bed til dryer times.
I stand by my window and watch the rain fall down.
I think about standing outside mouth wide open, arms stretched out to welcome it.
It is 7am… Later than usual for me to leave for work…
Then I realise that I have no umbrella, nothing to keep me dry, nothing to shelter me from the pour.
Should I wear more layers?
Is it cold and wet?
Or is it muggy and damp?
You are late!!
Outside with my raincoat over my head, I remember how far away my car is.
I jump over puddles and slide along slippery mud on the ground.
I pity smile at the dustbin men picking up the now sodden rubbish off the floor of the street,
And they glance back the “Fuck you” look of someone doing a job they detest.
What is that smell?
I am relieved to find my car where I left it,
I am grateful that I find it just as the smell of the sewers rises up to greet me.
I forgot how the rain in the fall differs from the springtime showers…
Spring is sweeter, Fall is fouler.
And all the flowers are now dead.
Put the wipers on…
Thursday, October 12, 2006
One day I am going to do the same... naked
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
But on the plus side I have been working out like a fiend! Finally after months of forcing myself to go to the gym and only ever managing once a week if that, I have finally found the joy in the gym! Now I know many of you are going to think, knowing me as you do, that this is due to a man… but no, this is all me! I actually look forward every day to leaving work to go home, quick change, and walk through the Dizengoff centre to my gym. I am actually writing this blog because in 30 minutes I can leave and delve straight into my favourite routine… oh how the little things excite me now!
I love walking through the shopping centre seeing all the people plodding around, while I speed walk my way through the crowd, hopping down the steps, rushing past the people drinking their Café Afuchs and Croissants and straight on to the final slope to my gym where I am greeted by my favourite receptionist who swipes me through, smiles her perfect white smile and hands me my card back with a “Hey Channah” and wishing me a great work out! Yes it is cheesy, but I am growing to like it!
I run on the treadmill do a few weights, a few sit-ups and then head to elliptical trainer to end my session and I manage to do all this in around an hour so that I can be home in time to watch my favourite secret pleasure… The Gilmore Girls. Not even the cute guy asking to ‘know more about the gym’ and in the process ask for my number, will stop me from getting home in time for this little indulgence of mine! That is nothing until bloody Hallmark decided to move it from 6pm to 1pm… How am I supposed to rearrange my day around that?
So this week instead of coming home to one indulgence I have given in to another… Wine! And I wonder why on Monday night (oops I meant Sunday) I tried to get into bed fully clothed only to find myself on the floor… BOLLOX! I promptly decided that I was too drunk to go to sleep and stayed up to watch some TV and sober up... but I had only drunk 3 glasses of wine, and I am no light weight! I then realised that after coming back from the gym, showering, talking on the phone to a variety of people, I totally forgot to eat. Instead I enjoyed a liquid dinner of 3 glasses of red wine and my muscles were soaking up every dreamy drop! Hence my lack of bed to body co-ordination…
Now I am not telling you this so you can say “Channah has lost it”, “She’s becoming an alchi!”, “She’s drinking to deal with her problems”, “She must be feeling really low”. Seriously, I do see that after yesterday’s blog you may be thinking that I am in a very deep and serious place right now, but the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, is that I am doing great! Life is cool! I am feeling healthier and better than ever! The wine is just a little rouge I like to put on every now and then for a little added colour (tee hee hee). Shit the more I protest the more I feel like taking up the 12 steps. Ok fine! I admit it I am a raging alcoholic and I love it!! Anyone wants me I’ll be in the bar! :-)
p.s. playing dress up with your friends and dancing around to music is a perfectly normal and healthy way to let off some steam. (just to explain the above picture)
p.s.s. 74% like Evangeline Lilly!!! My Life is now complete!!!
Sunday, October 08, 2006
I can’t hear it anymore… The words. I used to love the words. Being a person who loves the English language, I would lap them up one by one, let them swirl around my head, absorb into my brain and keep them there. Words of wisdom, words of love, words of worth… But I have heard so many of the same words, the same bullshit words, that they have become meaningless to me. The words of worth are now few and far between and the words of love have become worthless.
When did my heart produce the bounce back button? Is this something that happens to you with age? Or is this a sign of damaged goods?
I spent the weekend with my family in Ra’anana, and had the pleasure of my nieces and nephews being around too. It was such a joy to spend quality time with them. To watch them play together, fight together, find joy in life and scream their heads off when they were told they couldn’t have desert because they hit their brother. It was interesting to note that the Rabbi in Shul on Friday night (yes my dad almost died of shock that I was in Shul too!) brought up the topic of joy. He said “if you want to see joy in its purest form just head to your local Gan (nursery).” I didn’t have to go very far. There in my parents’ house was the Gan of the age 0 to 7, and on Shabbat afternoon I lay on the mattress fortress they had spent all afternoon making and destroying and read Mr. Men books and watched the joy on the faces when I promised to read another, when I let them play with my hair, when I smiled at them, and when their mum woke from her afternoon nap to feed them.
In my journey to find and unleash Channahboo I have been trying to look at my life through the eyes of a child and find the joy again. It has been successful to a large extent. I have found happiness in so many things; in the little things, in the big things, in my blood family and the family I have chosen for myself. The only area that dissatisfies me is the adult world, the world of words, a world without smiles and laughter, without holding hands and swinging in the air. We constantly have to explain ourselves, or at least we feel we do. No-one wants to be ‘the bad guy’ so we use words to explain away the bad actions. We lie to ourselves and to each other in order to appear to be the good one, the right one, the nice and kind one. Not the one who plays with other people’s emotions, not the one who takes advantage of our friends’ or loved ones’ kindness, not the one to use the other and not the one who calls an end to it, because that would make us ‘the bad guy’.
My two year old nephew, Noam, is just at the beginning of grasping the English language while simultaneously trying to grasp the Hebrew language. However, in doing this he uses more than words to express himself. I noticed that while the other children gabbled words out of their mouths trying to develop their vocabulary and learning to express their emotions with words, Noam’s face was more animated than the others. It was his primary way of communicating his emotions. His smiles seemed twice as big, and when I gave each of them a kiss goodbye his kisses were twice as loud as the others. Without words I knew that he was happy listening to my story, I knew that he was sensitive to me telling him to get off the bike, and without words I knew that he understood through my kisses that I was only afraid of him falling off and proceeded to get back on with a big grin on his face when I had moved it off the ledge and to a safer position.
So despite my love of words, despite my own urge to take words and make them beautiful, I have lost trust in these words… the words I hear.
“You are the best!”
The best what?
“You have no idea how much you mean to me”
Well actually I have no idea!
“We love each other”
I never said I love you… do you really love me?
“I can see myself falling in love with you”
But not now.
“You are truly amazing”
But not amazing enough.
“I still think about you”
I have heard it so many times before. And then there are the words of others. They are the words that I hear in my head coming out of the mouths of friends, and the words about you which have already been said about them. So while I am sat between the two, listening to both sides of the same story that all sound so familiar, who do I believe? Who has the ulterior motive? Who is trying to protect me? Who is out to dupe me? It is so confusing and so hurtful to me to think that I could have got it all so wrong, that I could have been so trusting and so stupid. I have been the player, I know the score… but I was told to be honest, to only say the words I meant. So while every body’s talking at me I am not going to hear a word they are saying, because I need more than words to show me how you feel. Or maybe the lack of, is actually worth a thousand words of worth.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Sad. Yes, but don’t cry for me just yet, because I have found a new passion to keep my adrenalin buzzing. Spinning!
Now I am very aware that I am probably one of the last people on this earth to discover Spinning, well including Ms Freeman. I am ready now to admit that in the past I was too scared or more truthfully, lazy, to try Spinning before. But now that I have done it I am hooked! The first class I took was more of an introduction to the bike; here is the seat – it should be at hip height, here is the resistance (Omes), here is the break, here are the peddles… In truth we only did about 20 minutes of a class that day, but it was more than enough for my poor bottom. People had warned me about the sheer exhaustion I would feel after the first class, they had warned me to drink lots of water, to take a towel with, to not eat anything before the class, but not one person had warned about the shear pain and potential damage it did to my rear end!
Obviously the designers spent more time ensuring that the front wheel of the bike (which is indoors and stagnant) cannot get water into it, than spending some time to ensure that my seat is padded sufficiently as to not burst a few blood vessels down there!
Gross! Ok so moving on…
Going to Spinning is like going to a bar. There are disco lights flaring around the room. The music is set to full blast. There are drinking sessions where the instructor makes us all take a shot before dragging us back to the dance floor for another ‘spin’. All in all it was pretty much a party, except for the fact that there was no alcohol to take my mind off the aching legs… perhaps an idea for my next class!
In truth I really loved the class. The instructor was charismatic and, despite the fact that we were all sweating together, made the whole class seem like such fun! Despite my initial trepidation and ‘cannot be arsed attitude’ to the whole thing, I ended up leaving the class grabbing Ms Freeman saying “My ass kills! But we are definitely going again next week!”
Now a week on I have to report that despite my ass-perience of the first class, the seat somehow didn’t hurt this time… Even Ms Freeman concurred! The second time around we had a different instructor who seemed to take the whole class up a notch and although we are all still very much beginners, we are all certainly a lot more confident about us spinning standing up, knowing when to switch on the resistance, and (judging by the way he pranced around the room) that Spinning us actually a good laugh!
Eli and I looked at each other and burst into hysterics as our instructor (the gayest fairy in the world) jumped off his bike as Rihanna started singing, “I don’t want to do this anymore… I don’t want to be the reason why”, and then proceeded to stand feat shoulder width apart, arms in the air, eyes closed, “Every time I walk out the door… I see him die a little more inside…” I swear I thought I was going to fall off the bike for a second then, but after a while it was more a case of ‘if you can’t beat ‘em then join ‘em’ You ready Eli… 1..2..3 and “I don’t wanna do this anymore…”
Damn! Afterwards I felt so good! My skin was glowing, my lungs felt liberated, and despite the fact that my thighs felt tight and unmanageable I managed to climb up the stairs home to perform the dancing fairy routine for Nooman and Hugh with a little help from Ms Freeman.
Later I took a walk around the area… I couldn’t sleep… my adrenaline was still pumping and my skin was glowing too much to waste on being in my bed. The air in Tel Aviv is clearer, and it is far more comfortable being outside nowadays. I can smell the winter coming and I am actually looking forward to the rain… maybe I will regret saying that in a few weeks… but for now… let it rain!!
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
In truth, very little changes; the same daily struggles, the same men, the same fights, the same break-ups, the same breakdowns, the same excuses, the same denial, the same urge to try and make everything work, and the same let-down when I realise that just because I build it ‘he’ still may not come. It takes more than praying and fasting to make me change my ways, although there are things I have adapted somewhat. The change may not be so noticeable from one year to the next, but looking back to before I made Aliyah and now, I see such a vast difference. There is the physical difference which everyone can see, and then there is the difference in me… the change from Hannah Graham to Channahboo, the change that only those nearest and dearest to me can truly see for its worth. I can show anyone a before and after picture of me, but it is only certain people who can see the before and after shot of my soul.
There was a time that I thought that I was soulless. Not totally soulless, that is impossible, everyone has a soul, but in the sense that my soul never quite felt connected to the rest of me. I could not hear it talking to me, helping me make those decisions that only your soul (often thought to be your gut) can tell you. It seems that for years I had just blocked out that voice, and instead battled with the voices of my father, my teachers, my friends and the world before making my decisions. I have always had a pretty good idea what it feels like to be judged, to have expectations placed on you… “Channah is not fulfilling her full potential”… I never understood this as if I never fulfilled my “full potential” how did these people know what my full potential was! I certainly had no idea! Every decision I have ever made in my life I made with the thought in my mind, “What would those voices say?” I might chose to follow those voices or I might chose to disregard them, but in the initial processing of my thoughts, I ignored my own thoughts and listened to what I knew to be the view points of others. I thereby stopped listening to my gut/ my soul.
Last night I lay in bed, shushed the other voices and tried to let my soul speak. “Quiet there at the back!” I attempted the experiment a little on the tipsy side thinking that this would be the easiest way to block out the other voices… and it worked! Until 2.30am when I woke up thinking it was 6.00am and fell over. Back in bed, wide awake, I asked myself what it was I was hoping for this year, and after a long conversation with myself I fell into a deep sleep. At 6.30am my alarm went off, I woke up, got dressed, prepared my lunch, brushed my teeth, looked in the mirror and smiled… this is going to be a good year!