Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Fiddler on the Roof opens tonight! Our dress rehearsal yesterday went really well, and I feel pretty confident that this is going to be a terrific show (especially since we have several very strong talents in the cast), but I'm nervous that I'm going to see all those people and just freeze or something. Gah! By the way, if you still haven't bought your ticket, go to www.encore-etc.com or call 054-578-9006.

In other news, I GOT GRADES IN ON TIME! Ah, the joys of having only four students! Also for the first time, I invited students over to my house. I've wanted to do this for a long time, but this year it came together nicely because on Mondays our class period was 90 minutes, enough time for the kids to come over to my house, have a decent-length class, and then get back for their next period. I fed them cookies and ice tea and we did my traditional last-class activities: Course evaluations, nice notes to each other, and my annual reading of Oh! The Places You'll Go.

Here's a philosophical question for you: If all four students took the English AP, is it fair to also give them a final exam? I say yes, because a) I don't have any evidence as to how they actually performed on the AP and b) my finals are in themselves learning activities that help them improve their skills, and why should they stop learning? I gave them the essay topics about 10 days in advance and told them they could bring all the texts and outlines they wanted, AND I gave them time in class to prepare. Of course the students say no because they are tired of writing essays. What say you?


A couple of weeks ago I went to a memorable wedding. My friend Adina, who hails from Canada and the United States and now lives in Israel, married an Ethiopian man who moved to Israel 16 years ago.

To be honest, the beginning of the wedding was a little hard for me. I mean, it was really great to see Ashkenazi Americans, traditional Ethiopians, and Israelis of all stripes mixing and mingling at a chuppah -- very joyous, very symbolic -- and I was happy for my friend. But weddings are a little tough for me anyway, and I was starting to feel like the wedding was simply a typical, nice, simple wedding when two things happened that brought it to another level.

First, the second that the bride and groom came into the reception hall after the chuppah and pictures, the electricity went out. No electricity, no lights. No electricity, no music! But the bride and groom had just come in, so everyone sang and danced in the dark. There were about 400 people at the wedding and everyone was jumping up and down, singing at the top of their lungs, unable to see anything but having a rocking time. It was so much fun that some people expressed disappointment when the lights went back on.

Second, about 45 minutes into the dancing, the DJ announced that he is now switching to Amharic music. The Ethiopians were all like "yay!" and pushed into the middle to dance THEIR way. I'd seen this before so I wasn't surprised but it was new to most of the other Americans at the wedding: Ethiopians dance with their shoulders. They stand in place and the shoulders jerk rhythmically up and down, back and forth. It looks simple but try it and you might feel like you are dislocating something. Pretty soon all the Americans were trying it too. Four hundred people, only about 150 of whom were actually Ethiopian, dancing Ethiopia-style. It was amazing! Really, really fun.


In more trivial news, Artemis got her first bath the other day. I'd been told by my vet, other cat-lovers, and cat websites never to bathe a cat if you value your life, unless the cat is filthy. Well, Artemis came home covered from head to toe in black powder that smelled like plastic. Man, does she love to frolic in the construction zone around the corner. Anyhow, I got everything ready for the most efficient washing possible and pushed the unsuspecting cat into the sink. Artemis was so stunned by the sensation of being submerged in water that she just sort of arched her back, stiffened every muscle, and wouldn't move. When I picked her up to put her in the other sink for a rinsing, she was like a cardboard cat, all four legs stretched out tight. I cooed at her but she was petrified, which worked well for me because I was able to get most of the black stuff off without losing any skin or either of my eyes. But I have the feeling that if I ever try it again she'll take one look and go berserk. Afterward, she was very angry at me despite the treats I gave her; the most egregious insult, apparently, was that now her soaking-wet tail looked like a rat's. She kept looking at her tail and then up at me accusingly.

Anyhow, she is now white and fluffy and smells like citrus fruit, and has forgotten all about it (until next time).


PS Still no reliable internet access at my house. However, I sometimes get enough of a signal that I can Skype. If you want to reach me that way, email me with your Skype address so I can add you to my contacts (please, only if we are friends in "real" life, thanks).

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Answer Me This

Why do so many men think it's OK to ask a woman on a first date "Why aren't you married yet?"

Please note, I'm not asking here about men who make the complimentary declaration "You are so terrific, I don't understand why you aren't married yet," which clearly should lead to the simple reply of "Thank you" and isn't meant to be any sort of deep "grilling" measure. It's just nice.

But I'm astounded by the sheer percentage of men who, on a first date, expect me to give a serious answer to the question of why I'm still available.

On a third, fifth, tenth date, I can see how a reflective answer would shed light on my personality and history and provide insightful information about my level of self-awareness.

But on a first date, I have three choices. I can dismiss the question airily with "Oh, I'm just unlucky, I guess," which makes me seem not self-aware, or I can give a serious answer, in which case I'm being forced on a first date to reflect out loud on my past mistakes and current shortcomings -- mistakes and shortcomings, I should emphasize, that are no different or worse than any of the many mistakes and shortcomings of married people-- which makes me feel like I'm being given the third degree.

If I dismiss the question entirely -- and I'm not really suave enough to do so in a way that is charming -- it looks like I'm hiding a terrible secret or that I'm bitter.

Being an earnest person who doesn't know how to wiggle her way out of awkward questions (oh, how I wish I'd gone to a southern charm school!) I usually answer honestly, trying to maintain a balance between truth and a desire to keep some privacy on a first date, and then, in a small act of revenge, turn the question back to my date.

Almost invariably they say "Oh, I'm just unlucky" or "I just haven't found the right person," which leads me to believe that they are neither self-reflective NOR aware of what are appropriate questions for a first date.

Of course, there is the man who answered "Well, I'm a yeller and a screamer."

Check, please.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mostly Annoyed

I have no internet access in my house. How and why this happened is a long story not worth telling. It is not the fault of any one particular person, but rather a combination of

a) the person who stole my roommate's computers, a curse be upon him/her!

b) my roommate (who is now out of the country and therefore unable to help much in correcting the problem) - God bless her, she made an honest mistake and now I am paying for it and

c) Bezeq International, a curse be upon them!

The attempts I've made to fix the problem have taken some time and led almost nowhere. To complete the fixing process, one of two things has to happen:

a) I have to spend A LOT of time gathering information that is hard to find because it is in the room of my roommate AND I have to go to the Bezeq store, which I hate, to get a new router AND make a whole bunch more phone calls or

b) wait for my roommate to get back in THREE WEEKS so that she can go chasing after a router and Bezeq.

Meanwhile, my American phone number does not work, and I can't access the internet from my house AT ALL. I tried stealing bandwidth from unsuspecting neighbors, but they all have password-protected networks, God bless their suspicious little hearts. I tried asking the people next door, with whom I have a good relationship, for their password, but THEY have a dial-up connection.

So I can't work or email or watch YouTube or ANYTHING from my house, and meanwhile all the money I'm NOT making is going to Cafe Hillel (where I am right now) and Tal Bagels and Aroma, where for the price of a meal I can use the internet for a few hours, until I can't stand sitting anymore and go home to NOT work.


In happier news, my students took their AP exams on Wednesday and seemed in pretty good spirits afterward about how they'd done, so that makes me proud. Their writing and ability to analyze text has certainly improved this term.

Rehearsals for Fiddler continue apace. The first two shows are sold out! I'm getting excited and nervous.

Oh, and I have two stories in this week's Jewish Week, in the Israel Travel section.

Have a Shabbat Shalom.