Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Pigeon-Toed Pose

How lucky are those models? Pose for photos for a day in various outfits and get paid for it. I couldn't be a model. I'm not tall enough, I don't have good enough teeth, I'm not slim enough, I'm not photogenic enough, I'm not pigeon-toed.

Seriously check it out here

Some of the younger child-models can get away with it, just. It's how an awkward five year old might stand if she had to sing in public. So obviously if a grown woman stands like this she will look like a young child, right? WRONG! Actually you simply look stupid. Or sad and uncomfortable with your age, I can't decide which.

Today in the DM there was an interview with Sarah Jessica Parker. She spoke about twitter trolls going after her twin daughters, saying they aren't really hers because they were carried by a surrogate. Despicable, rude, cruel and hurtful. The news was that whilst SJP usually ignores personal insults, this time she saw red and tweeted back. Good for you SJ, the troll was way out of line and I'm sorry you had to deal with that. 

Of course an interview with SJP is never about the headline really. It's about plugging her fashion line or her new film, or book, or whatever. And it's the chance to showcase some fashion shots in time for the new collection. To be fair, this is a celebrity thing, it's not just SJP. They all have to do it if they are to survive the PR game.

In among the photos of SJP modelling her own clothes (which imo are lovely clothes for a young woman but look a bit odd on a 49yo) was the worst case of pigeon-toed posing I've ever seen. It's picture 6 in case you missed it - I probably can't legally copy it here. 

The top third is a sultry looking mature woman, yes even looking sexy. The middle is a dress which would look good on any age from six to 26. And then the legs which are pretending to be five. What for? Does she really think we'll be fooled into thinking she's not yet overcome her shyness in front of the camera, that the sultry-sexy expression on her face is without aforethought, that she's actually not 49 but only a young-for-her-age nine? Do we look like we were born yesterday? No we don't and neither do you my dear, sorry.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Too Much Information? Yom Hashoah 2014

It happens to me every year. We go to London for Pesach and extend our trip for the entire duration of the school holiday plus a couple of days in order to get the slightly cheaper return flights. Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) is one week after the end of Pesach. So we get back, half unpack, still have piles of waiting laundry dotted around the floor, living in three weeks worth of dust as it's more important to catch up on work stuff than to clean the apartment, we've not quite got our school/work sleeping routines back to normal and poonkt it's Yom Hashoah.

I've written about it before. All eateries and places of entertainment are closed for 25 hours. At 10am there is a two minute siren and everything stops. The cars on the roads, even on the motorways, people in the street, the tv and radio. You think your own remembrance thoughts.

Since becoming a mother I usually think about the Kindertransport - the mothers who put their children on trains and promised to find them after the war. Or other mothers who gave their children to gentiles to hide for the duration with similar promises. Hopeful but hollow promises. Who knew who would survive and who would not?

This was the Tel Aviv Highway today.

My facebook feed is full of testimonies, names of dead relatives, photos, prayers, discussions. DD has talked about it in kindergarten. The children all wear blue and white and stand in silence for the siren.

DD: "There was a big war and the bad people wanted to kill all the Jews. Some of them ran away and some hid. Some were put in big prison camps and had to work hard like the slaves in Egypt. Lots of them died. We have to remember them. Who do you remember Mummy?"

Me: "I wasn't there, it was before I was born Darling. It was when Grandma and Grandpa were children but they were in England so they weren't in it. Do you remember Dalia and Gabi's grandma and grandpa who were at seder night? They were in it and they ran away to England."

Too much information for a five year old? This was one of the discussions on facebook today. It was a moot point as we don't get the choice - the children learn about it in school from nursery. My opinion? Neither too much nor too early. It is unfortunately a part of their heritage. A couple of years ago I wrote this piece for the 100 Word Challenge (the prompt was: Lest We Forget). This is something our children will not experience. Each generation will need to make more of an effort to remember.

History and yet a part of my life. Peers without grandparents, uncles, aunts, or cousins. Friends' parents sobbing behind closed doors. Children who are replacements for beloved families lost. Roles they can never live up to. I know them.

Born only 17 years after, I've spent my whole life trying to squash those 17 years smaller. Watching every film archive, reading every book, trying to get closer. Why? Because I was bequeathed the collective memory to carry and safeguard lest we forget. I remember something I never experienced. We all do. Like stories of your babyhood you remember only from the repeated telling.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Several Weeks At Once

There used to be a fridge magnet that said: I try to take one day at a time but sometimes several days all throw themselves at me at once. That has been what this week was like for me - several weeks at once. Here's the lowdown...

1. Work, obviously, and I was teaching right up until this morning. Except that one of the courses I teach had a deadline today including two papers and a one-to-one meeting with 50 students. You can't have the meeting until you've done the papers. But you need the last paper passed before you can go on to the next paper. No problem, only about 20 students had uploaded their papers and I was on top of it.

Then suddenly, woosh! Another 20 students sent in both papers at once and all wanted their meeting this week! They also needed their papers graded in order to continue on to the next paper.

2. I have friends who own a holiday apartment in Jerusalem. When they leave on an early morning flight I go in to throw their sheets and towels into the washing machine as they don't have time. After the washing's done I hang it up and then go back a couple of days later when it's dry, to put everything away. They left this week of course, on an early morning flight.

 3. I'd volunteered to help set up The Yedidya Bazaar. I could have cancelled on them but it's not nice to do so and I really wanted to help anyway. So that was 5 hours of free time swallowed up.

From inside the new guest bedroom
4. The sliding doors on my new dividing wall were fitted last week but the carpenter didn't finish. So he had to come back on Wednesday to put up the pelmet and paint the doors. Messy work, takes the best part of the day, and requires clearing up afterwards.

It was worth it as the wall and the doors look great - Thank you Kobi Haas (the builder) and Chaim Gottesman (the carpenter) - but it did mean that no Pesach cleaning could start until Wednesday night.

A peek from the new corridor

The new corridor with the doors shut

5. We are going to London for Passover (Pesach). I'd not managed to rent out my place this year so I was just planning to lock the door and go. Then, just this week, a friend of a friend asked if she could rent my spare room. It's not as big a business as renting out the whole place to a family who need all the bedrooms, but you do need to leave it clean enough for Pesach. I'm not even done yet and we leave tomorrow afternoon.

6. Packing - not even started.

Today I (along with every mother of young children in Israel) had to send DD to kindergarten at 7.30 am with a hard-boiled egg, a boiled potato and some lettuce for their practice seder. Go to the holiday apartment to put the dry laundry away and set the alarm (I don't leave it on with laundry drying as it inevitably falls over and sets off the alarm, usually in the middle of the night). Be back home to teach from 9am to 10am. Go to the post office to send my teaching cheques for March to the accountant which I couldn't do earlier as I was waiting for today's student to pay me. Go shopping for food for the plane (were're flying no-frills). Pay some bills and order travel insurance online. Collect DD from kindergarten at 12. Afternoon spent cleaning and getting the spare room ready. I'm almost finished (not really).

As I said, several weeks at once but tomorrow we move in with family and a full cast of supporting adults. Hooray!  I may or may not blog while we're away so have a Happy Pesach and/or Easter and I'll see you on the other side.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Yedidya Bazaar

I wrote about this annual event last year. However, last year we thought we were going to a second-hand sale and we discovered something completely novel and wonderful. I was so impressed by the whole concept that this year I volunteered to help.

In a nutshell, every item costs 2 shekels (about 30p). You fill your bags and stop at a counting table on the way out to tot up your stuff and pay. The money is obviously donated to charity but this is not the main purpose of the bazaar. The main point is that people clearing out and spring cleaning for Passover in this relatively affluent and largely expat area of Jerusalem, can pass on quality items (clothes, household, books and toys) that they no longer need to those who do need. There were also boxes from clothing manufacturers and local shops, full of new but older leftover stock.

It was bigger this year. Spread over three days and double the size. In fact so much stuff was donated that on the opening day, the organizer, Noomi Stahl, posted on fb to please not bring more clothes as we were at full capacity.

Shopping hours were from 4pm till 8pm. I couldn't help with that as I had DD with me. Instead I went in the morning to help sort out the bags of donated clothing. We had a three tiered system...

1. The highest quality, no stains clothing that went into the sale. Readers, we had items with the labels still on, we had designer clothes including coats and shoes hardly worn. These were then distributed into areas of the room according to type. I have a theory that expats often have more surplus in their wardrobes as they stock up or get sent from abroad without everyone being able to try on first. There is also the frantic shopping spree whilst on a trip back home with too little time and no opportunity to return items.

2. Items that were ok but not necessarily suitable for us. They went into the orange bin liners to go to charity shops. On the last day when there was more space, many of these bags were re-opened so that people could rummage through them. Anything left over went to charity shops whether orange bagged or not.

Full capacity tables
3. Rubbish into the yellow bin liners and straight to the bins. We tried calling one company who take old clothes for recycling (shredding, etc...) but they couldn't collect so we dumped by the bins. As delighted as we were with some of the wonderful clothing sent in, some of which was even ironed beforehand, you'd be amazed at the number of people who think it appropriate to send in old underwear or stained pyjama bottoms. Sorry if that's too much information.

I took DD after kindergarten to choose some games and books. I bought 5 novels for me, 2 books for DD, we got 2 board games in perfect condition, and I also found her 2 t-shirts, thick leggings, and a tricot skirt that I'm sure have never been worn (2 complete outfits for 8 shekels). So far 13 items.

Then I showed my true colours. A friend held up a black, long-sleeve t-shirt for me. "Nah," I said, "I'm not buying clothes for me." "It's Old Navy." "Nah." "It's still got the label on." "I'll take it!" I also came home with a skirt to round off the outfit.

I paid 30 shekels in total (about 5GB pounds). But it's not the money! They came from all over Jerusalem to kit out their families entirely. The more than 10,000 shekels (which is also not insignificant) that was collected for charity means that over 5,000 unwanted items were re-homed. That is phenomenal!