Monday, February 26, 2007

A Long-term Investment

Last night I went home. Not the home I grew up in and not the home that I currently share with Nooman and his computer, but my home… or should I say where my parents’ live. This should not be such a bold statement to make, but as I admit I am not the best daughter/ sister/ aunt in the world, so when I do step out of my Tel Aviv bubble I try to appreciate my time spent with the people I appreciate most and who probably realise it the least.

Earlier in the day I had a meeting with a financial adviser to discuss how I was going to invest my Pension fund that I (a year too late) have received from my work. I remember back in England, meeting with a financial advisor and gazing over is head wistfully as he droned on and on about high risk and low risk investments, while I contemplated how I was going to spend my money and promptly told him “Just give me the cash”. This time around, a little more mature, and a little more paranoid about the future, I asked him in depth questions about how I could get the highest growth out of my savings, the best way to invest it for the long term, and what other options I had to be a millionaire by the time I retire. In turn he, amazed that someone was actually interested in how their money was going to grow, talked about stocks and bonds, interest rates and the ever unstable market. He asked me questions about my health, lifestyle, family and finally came around to the most difficult part of the process…. What if I die?

Being young, and not having a husband or children of my own to consider if and when I leave this world, I had never really considered what would happen to my ‘things’. I mean I have never really owned anything of great worth… a car… a wardrobe full of clothes… There is nothing that anyone would really want. If I died tomorrow my family would more likely be cursing me for the inheritance of clearing out my draws, jammed full with crap that I have just thrown in over the years, forgotten about and have been too lazy to sort through and throw away. Perhaps that is something I should consider when I next get the cleaning bug.

So I am sat in the main meeting room, looking at the financial advisor with a thick Scottish accent and a large jovial grin on his face and my gut reaction is, “My father, I would like my father to be the beneficiary.” I think it was the right thing to do. I would never want to take favourites amongst my siblings. The advisor continues to look at me and I feel the heat rising to my face, my eyes watering slightly and I flush red. “Does he know how much you love him?” he says winking at me. I say, “Probably not”, and nervously laugh.

Sleeping last night in my parents’ house, in the only single bed in the house, I felt so strangely safe. There is a different feeling you feel sleeping under the comfort blanket of your parents building. I may prefer my bed in my apartment, I may find the mattress hard and unforgiving, but the sleep I have is like the sleep of my youth. It is like the rest of the world is really cut off. My eyes shut, relaxed… no monsters will come out of the wardrobe to get me, no-one is going to break in tonight. In the middle of the night I woke up and heard my father snoring across the hall.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Clarification

In light of my blog last year about this wonderful day that, thanks to Ginrod, I will forever refer to as VD, I thought I should clarify all I feel about this day...

Please! I am a woman after all! I wish you all a lot of VD! Peace be with you. x

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Taking the Mic

I got into work late for me today, although at 9AM it would be the standard time to arrive into work for most. Me on the other hand I like to get in early and escape not long after the part timers leave. This way I miss the traffic in the morning, miss the traffic in the afternoon, and get to be home in time to go to the gym and still have a full night ahead of me to hang with my friends. This morning however there was no getting me to work on time.

A night with Ginrod turned into two bottles of wine followed by an excursion to a little blue door in the wall Jazz bar with the girls. This is the kind of bar I like. A small place, with an understated charm that draws your vision to the large black and white stills hanging on the brick wall of musicians looking down at a large, black, grand piano and double base waiting to be played. It is the sort of place I go to dream of being a Jazz singer, “doo doo wa” doing next to a piano man who I slide up to as I sing my song about whoopee, not too dissimilar from Michelle Pfeiffer in The Fabulous Baker Boys. In an ideal world where I did not have to consider where my rent was coming from each month, that is where you would find me at night… propping myself up against a grand piano, singing in dulcet tones to an audience who would lap up every drop.

I remember going to see my friend Corinne, many years ago, when she was working in a Jazz bar, go up on the stage and sing amongst the musicians. I would watch her with an even mixture of admiration, pride and a dash of envy. Although I had sung a great deal when I was younger, by the time I finished my teens I left behind singing in favour of finding a ‘career’. It never occurred to me that I could ever find a career with my voice, no matter how many people said I had talent, my view was there is more to being an artist than holding a note. An entertainer can sing a tune, but he is no artist. An artist writes the tune he sings. In my opinion unless you have nurtured the song from just an idea to fruition you may as well be creating the Mona Lisa painting with numbers. I guess this is why I envied her, because when she stood on that stage just singing into the mic, she belonged there. Surrounded by instruments that she could play, singing with musicians who admired her talent as a musician and a singer songwriter. I knew my place. I was and am nothing more than an entertainer, a self loathing entertainer longing to be an artist, and not just a singer.

When you are just a singer it is hard to stand up with the giants and claim that the voice you have is an instrument too. The difference here is I do not have to practice my instrument every day, although there was a time that I did much to the annoyance of my family. I think the issue has always been that I have always held truly talented musicians in some form of reverence. They had the raw talent, the determination and the passion for their art to keep on practising; even when their fingers were bleeding; or when they had failed to get it the first 10 times, but were determined to get it this time; or just even though their favourite TV programme was on and they could not be bothered to concentrate. They carried on in a way that I never could with the many instruments I had longed to play, but never managed more than London Bridge before quitting.

However, last night, when my friend grabbed the dude who had brought the musicians together and said, “You looking for a singer?” while pointing in my direction, I was amazed by how welcome I felt. Arms outstretched he welcomed me to join the musicians on stage… any time… now? No I could not go up. Nothing to do with nerves. Although now the thought of getting back on stage is filling me with an excited fear and loathing, I was just not prepared to sing at that moment. Well after two bottles of wine I stumbled over telling him my name, never mind trying to remember the lyrics to songs I have not sung fully for years. “Anytime you wanna sing, come find me.” And with a wink and a smile I felt so at ease that despite not knowing what I would sing or the words to the songs I almost floated on after him as he walked back onto the stage and lifted the sax to his lips and played. “I will…”

My head heavy I woke sideways this morning, bumping into Nooman in the bathroom and swearing at him, at myself and then clamouring back into bed and switching my alarm off. My excuse for not singing last night was because I had to get home to bed for work. The guy had said that he too had to get up for work, but that was not what was important “This is what counts. Not work.” I definitely could understand what he was saying, although I think Mr. Graham would not quite agree with the sentiment. “When are you going to start earning some decent money?” I did… remember… in England. “Maybe you should think about going back.” I do… and then I decide that it just is not an option. “Oh you could have had so much by now!” I do… I have more.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Mushy Muesli

Once there was a Cornflake girl, who thought it was a good solution hanging with the Raisin girl, well they needed to talk and so as they lay with nothing to do in the cereal box, only waiting to be opened up and covered in milk, they talked.

Raisin Girl: I think I need to go on a date, get out there and meet someone.
Cornflake Girl: But I thought you wanted to be with him, to give it a go.
Raisin Girl: Yes, but I cannot force someone to be with me who does not want to be with me.
Cornflake Girl: Did you ask him?
Raisin Girl: Yup
Cornflake Girl: And?
Raisin Girl: Something about the time passing by… I don’t want to talk about it anymore.
Cornflake Girl: Ok, so move on, meet someone new, bring in new energy… someone hotter.
Raisin Girl: The only thing I want is one last time with him… you know so we can end this well and I don’t have to hate him
Cornflake Girl: Step away from that idea

I never loved nobody fully
Always one foot on the ground
And by protecting my heart truly
I got lost in the sounds
I hear in my mind
All these voices
I hear in my mind all these words
hear in my mind all this music

And it breaks my heart

Cornflake Girl: You know I miss the little fucker
Raisin Girl: Who?
Cornflake Girl: You know who… I told my friend last night that I'll be upset if he contacts me tomorrow, but I'll be even more upset if he doesn't.
Raisin Girl: Yeah I hear you… In my head it goes “if he calls I am ignoring it”, but the fact that he hasn’t called just makes me want to call him.
Cornflake Girl: We’re not pathetic right?
Raisin Girl: I hope not!
Cornflake Girl: No! We are desirable!
Raisin Girl: I hope we are!
Cornflake Girl: And deserve to be with nice men.

And suppose I never met you
Suppose we never fell in love
Suppose I never ever let you kiss me so sweet and so soft
Suppose I never ever saw you
Suppose we never ever called
Suppose I kept on singing love songs just to break my own fall
Just to break my fall

And it breaks my heart

Cornflake Girl: Every time I see his name I want to vomit… and smoke
Raisin Girl: Yup I know what you mean… Is it a sign of weakness?
Cornflake Girl: No! It’s a sign of emotion. I hate him, I hate him, I hate him!
Raisin Girl: Why do you hate him?
Cornflake Girl: Because it is easier to be angry
Raisin Girl: Yeah I guess it is. Why can it not just be easy? Why can it not be simple? You like each other, you like hanging out together, make each other laugh, have good chemistry, fantastic sex and you love each other. How does that not equal a relationship?
Cornflake Girl: It does. Just without the title I guess.
Raisin Girl: Ok so why does it mean a relationship without a future?
Cornflake Girl: Because someone is scared of the future or doesn't want a relationship, or has it set his mind to not have one.
Raisin Girl: Or just not to have one with me!
Cornflake Girl: That does not make sense to me.
Raisin Girl: Me neither!

All my friends say that of course its gonna get better
Gonna get better

And it breaks my heart

Cornflake Girl: Ok I am doing the worst thing possible now.
Raisin Girl: What?
Cornflake Girl: I am reading through old conversations I had with him.
Raisin Girl: Oh my god! I am doing the same thing.
Cornflake Girl: Are we the same person?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Golden Pig

Today was definitely a new day for me. I went to sleep early and woke up before dawn refreshed and ready to start a new day, with a new attitude. I got in the first boiling hot shower I have had all winter and remembered that the hot water was always more efficient in the mornings. After I steamed my self out I walked around my apartment, got dressed, dried my hair and listened to the sound of rain outside my window. I remember this time of year from last year. It has to get worse before it can get better, and now is the countdown to the end of the storm. In the meantime we have a storm to live through. I thought about this and I smiled.

I did not even mind the fact that my car was parked a block away and that the downpour clearly meant that drying my hair straight would be pretty much a waste of time. Dressed and ready to leave the house I took another look around the place, checked myself in the mirror and decided that although I was still early for work, there was no need to put on make-up. I walked through the streets to my car and I did not even mind when I stood in a puddle, soaking my foot in the process. In fact I laughed.

I arrived to work, the only person in the office apart from one Lawyer who it would seem had pulled an all-nighter. My happy mood followed me all the way to my desk, through most of my emails until one particularly obnoxious lawyer’s rant of an email really wound me up. Now I am gritting my teeth and wishing the little runt was here so I could give the ignorant piece of shit a piece of my mind! I grit my teeth. Something I have been doing a lot lately which explains the headaches I keep getting.

Anyway, It is funny that; the fact that the email got me so angry. I mean most people I know when they don’t really care about something they don’t let the things around it annoy them. Take my younger sister for example. In general she just does not give a shit, unlike her twin who takes offence quickly, she does not really care what happens around her. I on the other hand do care very much… even when I don’t. What do I mean? Well, my job is hardly my career. It is not the job I was trained in, nor the job I choose to have for the rest of my life. I am neither passionate nor inspired by it… and before you ask, yes I have been passionate and inspired by previous jobs which were in fact a career. However, when I made Aliyah there were things I gave up to live in the country of my choosing, and my previous career was one. Nevertheless, if I do not care about what I am doing then why should I care if someone criticizes my work? It makes no sense. So too, if I am emotionally detached then why do I care if I feel like others are emotionally detached from me. I cannot expect someone to show me the love if I keep mine close to my own chest. Yeah well… a nice thought in theory, but when it comes to the workings of this heart I have always been ‘show me a little and I will give it all’, so I guess the fact that I feel at times like I am getting nothing shows me that keeping my heart closed is not necessarily a bad thing… protect yourself boo.

I then come to an email from a Chinese associate informing the office about their forthcoming national holidays due to the New Year. It got me thinking. Now would be a good time to have a New Year. Now when the skies are falling down upon us, it would be good to have a time to celebrate a new year, as if all the problems of last year are being washed away and we will be left with a clean slate and a whole new year ahead of us. This year is the year of the pig, and not just any pig, but the Golden Pig. The pig as an animal is considered “playful, honest, forthright and one who enjoys instant gratification and all life has to offer”. Therefore, the year of the Golden Pig is supposed to be a fun year, “a time to get your sense of humour back”. I could really do with getting that back asap!
According to Chinese belief it is also a good year for children to be born as these children will be destined to lead carefree lives. It then comes as no surprise that condom sales in China, and neighbouring countries who also follow the Chinese zodiac, have fallen dramatically since the new year as couples are eager to conceive so their child can be born in the year of the Golden Pig. However, the flip side is that the year of the pig is, according to many Buddhists and followers of the Chinese Zodiac, also known as the “Year of the Widow”, which as it sounds is a bad time for women hoping to marry. Just a note to all single women out there; if you thought this was your year… forget it! However, on a brighter note, it is the year of the GOLDEN pig don’t forget, so that could mean a whole new spin on the issue… but either way it promises to be a year of fun and frolicking in the mud.

The mud tonight being a meeting with my personal trainer followed by an evening of Karaoke... Dazed Glonut I hope you have been warming up your voice!!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Start Again

Well the weekend began with migraines and tears, a dangerous cycle that could not be stopped with all the drugs I was popping into my system. I lay for a whole day in the dark, tears rolling down my face, waiting for the pain to subside. I drifted in and out of sleep, and as I did I felt all the weight on my mind ease off. Not literally of course, the pain was still there, but I began to feel the things that were bothering me ease up somewhat… And then last night they all came crashing down on me again.

Last night I was relieved to see Fit Joel. We have always been close and although we have recently both been distracted and neglected our friendship, it was so good to spend some time with him, even if the only alone time we got was parked outside my apartment. It would seem that I am not alone. We have all been through those complicated situations where lines are blurred, where the space between black and white is a sea of grey. As we sat and talked, I remembered all the times we spent together during university and how easy it was to not date anyone during that time. As I poured out my heart to my dear old friend I realised that I had not felt so safe in so long. The advice he gave me was nothing I did not already know, nothing new and profound, but it touched me and I found myself only hoping that one day I could repay him with similar words of support. His advice was clear;

Channah you have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about. You are great and if they cannot get that then they just don’t get that… move on. But in the meantime I get how easy it is to not.

After we agreed that a weekend up North was what we both needed, I got out of the car, my head a whirl with his advice and I could not help but think about all the little niggles in my life that I would like to be ironed out. No matter, be it the issues with work, my family, my friends, or the men that come and go, they are all in my control and I have the power to manoeuvre my life in the direction I would like it to go. I also have the power to deflect the control I see others having on me… No one can tell me what to do. As he once said so many years to me:

Channah, you have a knack for asking for advice. You ask and ask and ask from everyone everywhere. But you only ever take the advice of yourself. That is a good thing… I just don’t get why you feel need to ask. You need to bypass that and just trust in your own instincts.

I figure that the issue with that has always been that I have been brought up to think in a very logical manner. From a young age the wild impulses of the ‘born actress’ were kicked out of me and I realised that logic was the only way I was going to find my path through life. The only problem is that when you are trying to find a new path and you have so many options in front of you it is usually your natural impulses or instincts which help you find the right way. My issue is that my logical brain blocks the instinctual voice in my head and no matter how much I try to hear it, my ears are blocked… for the exception of purchasing shoes. In that case my instincts take control and my logic is bound and gagged. How does this happen? Who knows, but at least I know it is still there… waiting for me to channel it somehow.

Lately I have found strangers shocking me into déjà vu with words I have not heard since my youth. At a Friday night dinner a couple of weeks ago a film director at the table turned to my roommate as I was in the middle of one of my stories and said, “That Channah is something! She is a great Actress… Wow!” My ears were burning as I tried to continue my story without being put off by the commentary going on stage left. However the flush was in my cheeks and I could not accept the compliment for what it was. Nor could I when I was having a rant about the ignorant new waitress in Arcafe who refused to give me my frequent customer discount because I did not have my card… Girl there is no frequent customer discount card!! They just give it to me because every other waiter knows me! During this rant I naturally and unknowingly began to imitate the annoying voice of the waitress. Mid speech I suddenly opened my ears to my audience and saw them laughing their asses off… “Channah seriously you are in the wrong profession! You should have been an actress!”

Once again instead of pride I felt embarrassed, and I could not understand why I would feel this from what was actually a complement. I then remembered all the times I had heard this before when I was a child and remembered how the words had been said mostly in the same way, but also enough times in scoff. Tears came to my eyes and I suddenly felt a rush of all the foolish feelings that had consumed me then; the feeling of being the court Jester rather than the entertainer; the feeling of being laughed at instead of laughed with. I guess every now and then the feeling that no-one around you takes you seriously comes back to me every now and then… it is my issue with myself. On the one hand I enjoy laughing at myself, on the other I often fear that I am being seen as just a joke. Perhaps this is my way of telling myself not to take Channah too seriously.

Looking back over all the blogs I have written over the last few weeks I see the little girl that I was, grappling to find her feet and establish herself again in this older more worldly body. As I said back then, this is not depression, I am not depressed. And no I am not in denial either! I think everyone at the moment is suffering the Seasonal Syndrome and feeling as grey and blustery as the weather and I think we are all waiting for the buds of spring to appear and the sun to shine again. I long to jump into the Mediterranean again after a long night partying with my girls.

In the short term I am starting another week, and I am already looking forward to the weekend. Perhaps there will come a time when I enjoy just standing still and watching the world around me move. However right now I am eager to jump back on the merry-go-round and feel the wind whip through my hair as life exhilarates me and makes my heart race… It has been too long since my heart raced. Ok maybe not as long as others, but long enough for me. So if the play is not panning out as planned, the actress has forgotten her lines and no longer cares about her role, she starts again from Scene One.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Dance dance dance

So just a little update on my evening last night... Ms Freeman misread the class timetable and despite telling me that the class was going to be Street dance, Noodles and I walked in to find that it was in fact Strip dance! You can only imagine...

Well I have been told that I look like Carmen.... Er ok.

Anyway, my boss is off work today. It would appear that her boyfriend late last night suprised her with a weekend trip to Paris. Where do guys like this hang out? Certainly not around me, any of my friends, or any guy I have as yet to meet. I can't even get a guy to commit to staying at his place for the weekend! But seriously I am happy for her... and as long as this only benefits my annual review which is next week I am all for her taking of a day or two to escape to Paris.

Meanwhile, with no-one in the office to check on me I am being suprisingly responsible and plan to leave only 2 hours early.

Be well, have a wonderful weekend, whatever it is that you are doing. I'm staying in Tel Aviv with the greatest people I know... well some of them ;)