Thursday, December 28, 2006

English girls can drink?

You people clearly haven't downed a shot with Ms Freeman...

Hmmmmm What was that comment about my eighth drink?!?!?!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Roar Like a Lion

This weekend I took a break from the city of sin and decided to ascend to the heavenly mountains of Ramat Bet Shemesh, where my more holy older sister lives with her brewed of perfect children and doting husband (Yo Vic!) for Shabbat.

I find the problem with living in Tel Aviv is that you become used to the hustle and bustle of the dirty depraved city and to leave seems like madness when you think of all the bars and restaurants and life in general that is swarming around your doorstep. By comparison, the idea of going to a quiet settlement up in the hills only surrounded by the Ultra-Orthodox can seem like heaven and hell all at once. On the one hand, I get to spend a weekend surrounded by the Ultra-Orthodox with no-where to escape in my sleeveless top and jeans without the risk of being stoned (and not in a good way). However, on the other hand, I also get to spend a weekend in the bosom of my family, eat good food, get some peace and quiet (from the city that is) and be entertained all weekend by 5 of the cutest and most beautiful children you will ever meet, my nieces and nephews… and no I am not just being biased… they really are THAT perfect.

Now the weekend might have been a little lacking on the peace and quiet I had hoped for, somehow I always underestimate the noise of 5 children, however it was so great to play with the kids, especially playing Connect 4 with Shalom, laughing as he tried to cheat a couple of times. Being around kids reminds you of how much fun your childhood was. I remember play fighting with my brother and sisters. I remember how rough we would sometimes get, like kittens jumping over each other, so that mum and dad would not realise we were just playing but think that World War III had entered the Graham household. Oh and yes I remember when World War III did actually enter our household from time to time… Oh yes, my older sister and I especially would be the cause of that! Trashing each others rooms, screaming matches in public… for some reason we just loved to piss each other off! In some ways I kind miss it… I mean now that we are all grown up and I can’t just wrestle her to the ground when she annoys me (I always used my extra 6 inches and weight to my advantage), or play fight because we are grown up now and what kind of example would that set for the children!

And then today my brother-in-law sent me this beautiful link and with his permission I am sharing it with you all… Because when you are the little one and your big sister is in your face, my advice has always been stand your ground and roar like a lion!! Noam you are a star!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Dance for Israel

Back in October I gave you the dancing Matt... Now I give you the dancing Oleh!!

The naked version will be coming soon....

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Seasons Greetings... Happy Chrismakah!!!!

'Tis the season that we all celebrate the dudes, known as the Maccabis, kicking some serious ass and eating sugary doughnuts in celebration. And while are Christian friends have a fat guy with a white beard to look forward to, and one day of presents, I remember the 8 days of increasingly more exciting presents I would get from my folks as a kid (well ok... the first 7 days were chocolate coins).

So as I am starting to get into the festive spirit and as Capital FM has already started playing Christmas songs I did not want my fellow Maccabis to feel unloved... In case you have been on another planet for the last 5or so years, here is Adam Sandler...I give you all three versions of the Chanukah song!!!




And don’t forget after you have smoked your marijuanika to have a happy happy happy happy Chanukah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What is in a Name?

When I was a Jew living in a foreign country, living with a Jewish name I ran into the following problems:

a) People mispronouncing my name. This can range from pronouncing a CH as in ‘chain’ and ‘change’ instead of making the guttural sound of Ch as in ‘Chanukah’
b) People calling me a different, easier to pronounce, name all together. I have been called every name from Anna to Sharna in my time.
c) Some people find the C before the name Hannah so confusing that they instead choose to call me by my more English last name Graham, and this is not even a pet name. They honestly thought that I was boy called Graham CHannnah!
d) My passport and birth certificate having a different name to the one on my ticket. I would never have thought this would be an issue when flying ELAL, but because my British passport holds the name Hannah and my ticket was ordered by my loving parents in the name of Channah it proved far too confusing for the security at the ELAL check in.

When I arrived in Israel I felt the sweet bliss of not having to repeat my name several times over, or to sigh when people would ditch the C and H all together and call me Anna. In Israel I was Channah. I was me. I was the name of my grandmother, the name my parents gave me, and I felt so relieved. However it was short-lived.

Channah in England is a pretty bog standard name for a Jewish girl, and Hannah is continuously one of the top three most popular names in England each year, however in Israel the name I inherited from my Grandmother is just that… a name of a Grandma. This is a problem a few of my friends who came with pretty traditional Hebrew names in England to Israel… their names were just not cool enough. Shop keepers welcoming the new Olah to Israel would make suggestions regarding a change of name, “Your name is just not cool. You should go with Chani instead… much more hip!”

Er… Chani? Chani in England is the name of the Rabbi’s daughter. For years I had refused to allow the Jews of England call me Chani… well I do make an exception for a Mr Javor and every now and then for a Ms Freeman (if she is very very good). There was no way I was changing my name to Chani! And then there was the option of Ilana, my middle name, which I can only stand if it is pronounced with a Yorkshire or Israeli accent. However, everywhere I turned I saw Ilanas or Elanas. Plus in my first few weeks in Israel I found myself living next door to an Ilana Channah, so making the same change to my name would be way to confusing.

So for the last two years I have lived with the fact that although my name may not be cool in Israel, I am too cool for Israel… well that is what I tell myself anyway. Then Thursday night there was a new revelation.

Yummyguy: So you still haven’t told me your name
ME: I thought I did… you never told me yours.
Yummyguy: You never asked… it’s @#*&%
Me: I’m Channah
Yummyguy: Channah? You don’t look like a Channah
ME: Yeah I know… Channah is a grannies name blah blah blah
Yummyguy: No… I would say Channah is more of a naïve girls name… you are certainly not naïve!
ME: Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…. Thank you?

I wasn’t sure whether to take it as a compliment or more of a reference to the indecent flirting that had been going on all night, but I was slightly shocked. Although I have never considered myself nor have been referred to as a naïve girl, I did not like to be told that I was ‘certainly not’ one! What are you trying to say dude?

After telling my new boss about this she suggested looking it up in a names book. I was a little dubious as I once looked my name up in the Hebrew dictionary and found it said that my name meant “a camp site for soldiers.” I was not pleased, but I thought I would go along with her suggestion and I found the following:

From the Hebrew name חַנָּה (Channah) which meant "favour" or "grace". Hannah was the mother of Samuel the prophet in the Old Testament. The Latin version of this name is Anna.

Channah – Goddess of Life – Hebrew

CHANNAH - Variant of the Hebrew name Chana meaning “gracious, merciful”.

The girl's name Hannah is pronounced HAN-ah. It is of Hebrew origin, and its meaning is "favored grace." Biblical: mother of the prophet Samuel. Being barren, she asked God to bless her with a child, and her prayer was answered. Hence, the name literally means "God has graced me with a son."

But seriously what is really in a name? In olden days I would have been called “Troublesome second daughter of Stephen the man among daughters.” In my mind among my friends I am the UN truck, the one that they can always rely on when they need a hand, an ear or a shoulder. I am the one that cannot stop crying 1 day in every 2 months. I am the one with selective hearing that they are secretly jealous of. I am the one who doesn’t really give a shit, but then does when it comes to her true friends. I am the one that will not let people get too close even though they may think they totally know me. Ultimately I am someone who tries to carry myself with grace and wit. Who strives for humility and love. Who sees the romance in all things and would only love the world just to kiss and make-up. So I guess I have found peace with my complicated name, because it has beautiful meaning.

Beyond the literal, ultimately I was named after my Grandma Annie. I wish I had a picture to show you of Grandma Annie, but you will have to make do with my description of her as a person instead. Although I never met my grandmother, I was born a year after she died, I have always been told what a remarkable woman she was. People describe her as the most welcoming woman with a warm heart, vivacious personality and contagious giggle. An amazing woman with a wonderful soul. I remember seeing a picture of her just before she died with my sister and wishing that I could have met the woman that everyone said I would grow up to be like, the woman that everyone referred to as a woman beautiful both inside and out. What a legacy to leave behind… What a shadow to walk behind. But with her name I do hope that I can leave something similar for my granddaughter/s to look up to. And with a little grace and hoping that HE may look favourably upon me I carry on my walk through life. Just call me the Goddess of Life from now on.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Dude I am fine!!

I never thought that the last blog would cause such controversy. To be honest I never thought that people really cared that much, but from the time I posted my last blog, I have received the same, “Is everything ok with you?” question and pitying look from near and far. I was a little taken a back to be honest. Sometimes I forget that people are reading. No that sounds dumb. Of course I know people are reading… I have a site meter. What I mean is that although when I write a blog I am very conscious about who the blog relates to and whether they will be reading and I always think about what my family will think should they be reading, I never really think about everyone else… the public, and how they may see me.

Random: Hey… so how are things with you? You seemed blue last week.

Me: No not really. I just had to rant about something. I hadn’t written in ages, I have been overworked and on my period for like forever! I am fine (big cheesy grin)

Random: Err… ok

Hmmmm… Perhaps a little too much information.

Yag: Hey doll, is everything ok? What Sagas? Anything I should know about?

Me: Dude I am fine!

Yag: You missing Nooman?

Me: Dude I am fine!

Nooman (my roommate) has gone to England for a week and pretty much straight after that will be going into the army. So for the next 6 months it looks like I will be living alone. Something I am looking a lot more forward to now that the rapist (Benny Boy – Not Nooman) has been caught. Also we have a new neighbour. A cute old homeless man stands outside my apartment day and night, guarding his wheelie dustbin (trash can) that he has claimed as his home. He asks for money in English. I don’t know what it is about him, but I am always grateful to see him standing there protecting my entrance way when I come home late from a night out a little worse for wear. I want to speak to him, to find out his story, but something stops me from approaching him… perhaps my English reserve, perhaps my own shyness that I cover over with my own self confidence. Either way I am glad he is there… and I lovingly have started to refer to him as Albert…. There is something about the long white hair…

This weekend I spent a night in Jerusalem, joining Lexus Maximus’ festivities for her birthday and then letting friends I have not seen for a while drag me to different parties around the area. In the back streets around Yaffo, all nations spent their evening partying in the spirit of their countries. The Brazilian boys were dancing wildly, drinking heavily and, luring women into their little shack… After we made the great escape we were promised a good time from the Americans… yeah nothing new there.

I walked into a Hebrew Uni frat party and immediately felt at home. The Greek style Karma Sutra playing cards were a fun icebreaker and soon I found myself in the kitchen talking to the tallest guys I have ever met. Mike (6”5) and Brian (6”10)… I kid you not! I stood and talked to them about nothing more than how intimidated I was standing next to them and where the mixers where for the vodka. After I realised that I was going have to drink citron vodka straight, I went to find the girls I had come in with and found them in the corridor with the only Israeli’s in the party. Oh how I love some harmless flirting and a charade!

The next day I enjoyed taking part in the Jerusalem tradition of Tal Bagels for breakfast. However, for me Tal bagels is never as simple as going for a brunch at a café in Tel Aviv. In Tel Aviv, brunch is a quiet, civilised experience with a few friends preferably at The Brassiere. In Jerusalem brunch with your friends means turning up at Tal Bagels and standing around the table your friend has reserved while a million of the people they know from Katamon/ the shul/ the supermarket/ the old country, turn up and sit in your seats! However, as I categorically told my friend that should that happen I would go and eat on my own at Burger Ranch instead, this week was far more civilised. That is until I got passed the salt.

Half way through my brunch and I decided to add a little salt to the egg… big mistake! The cap had not been put back on properly and there I was with a snowfall of salt all over my plate, lap and in my handbag. It was actually pretty hilarious although I am gutted that Sabra did not have her camera to hand as it would have made a good shot for this blog, plus I got a new breakfast so it was all good. The only thing that bothered me somewhat was its meaning… There is always meaning in everything.

They say that salt over the left shoulder is good luck, so what does it mean when it lands in your lap?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Saga after saga

I know I haven’t written in a long time. To be honest there has been no time in the day, and until I have full access to a computer at home, I am having to rely on the few minutes I have to spare every few weeks to update you on my life… and that is just the parts of my life that I can print!

Not to imply that there is a lot of excitement going on. To be frank there is not enough of the excitement I want, and a little too much of the sagas I like to avoid. But as you all know, although I am always willing to write about my excitements, I am not about to start writing about the sagas… I mean I can barely believe I live them never mind having to repeat the stupidity to the world!

Seriously, what are sagas all about? No-one ever knows what they are about. They come out of the blue with a cat fight caused by a spat, caused by a misunderstanding which generally has something to do with (in the case of women) hormones and or lack of sex or (in the case of men) to do with lack of sex and or being sick. Either way, they are bullshit and I tend to try to avoid them. The only problem is that no matter how much you try to avoid them, when you are in the middle of one, there is no way out. No matter what you say, you make matters worse. Which would imply that perhaps it is better to shut the fuck up, a piece of advice I try to pass on to all my friends, however when you are in the middle of it you just cannot shut the fuck up… you just want to sort it the fuck out.

When I see sagas happening around me I hide out in the company of more chilled out, less hormonally challenged friends. When it is me that is hormonally challenged there is nowhere to hide. I take a walk, I take myself away from others, but I cannot take myself away from myself. So I cry… Why? Because I am totally frustrated with myself, and as I have never been suicidal, and as I consider myself a pretty sane person, it is highly frustrating when you take a step out of your own body and see yourself as a psycho bitch from hell.

So how do I get out of it? Sit it out and just wait for it to pass? Ignore the saga going on around me and try to go back to concentrating on work? Whinge to a friend who will make me laugh at myself because seriously… I am not a psycho… although once every two months I do talk like a coke head. The world is endless of possibilities and options for a girl like me who is sometimes a little too self aware. Do I take up every offer? No… I am a lady after all! Ok I am trying to be :)

"When people are laughing, they're generally not killing each other." ~Alan Alda