Stefanella's Drive Thru

Israel, U.S., conflict, war, peace, humor, travel, romance, fashion, fun

Vanished June 27, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 6:09 pm

A friend and I were talking about the agony of parenting. The hell of worrying when uncertainty is at the fore.

Think of Gilad Shalit’s parents. Or Alan Johnston’s, I remarked.

Israeli soldier Shalit was taken captive a year ago by a Hamas-linked faction and BBC correspondent Johnston was kidnapped in Gaza in the Spring. Earlier in the week, audio and video tapes of both were released by their captors.

How do their parents endure the sustained agony of uncertainty? How do they bear that unresolved tension? I asked my friend.

I don’t know, she answered. How did my mother do it? How did my grandparents endure?

I had forgotten that my friend is the daughter of a “Desaparecido”. Los DesaparecidosThe Disappearing Ones – is the name given to people who disappeared in Argentina during the country’s Dirty War in the 70’s & 80’s. People who were deemed a threat to the military government simply went missing. 9,000 of them. Her father, a professor, vanished one day. She was an infant when he was taken.

My mother said the toughest part was not having closure, my friend shared. No grave. No sign of life or death. No final word. My father’s parents refused to move house for NINETEEN years because they held onto hope. They were afraid that IF one day he tried to come home, he wouldn’t know where to find them.

Lord have mercy. I hope Gilad and Alan come home to their families soon.


Still Shocking June 24, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 4:14 am

In September it’ll be 2 years since I made my way back to Israel to live. We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto. No sireee.

This is quite a ways from San Francisco, in fact, when it comes to “PC“. So while I’ve acclimated on many levels to living in these parts, I still get an occasional jolt when I hear someone say something “off-color” or I meet up with behavior generally construed in Western circles as rude.

Heck, why don’t I just share?

That’s what you call throwing? That’s a girl throw! Show us what you’ve really got….Party entertainer engaging 5-year-old birthday boy during his routine

I need you to check the text and make sure it’s not in Palestinian English. (Excuse me? I don’t understand what you mean) You know. Put it into proper English without mistakes….1st time dialogue with client needing website editing

My God you’ve gained weight. Your vote could count twice!… Mayoral candidate speaking to an old girlfriend he hadn’t seen in years

Let me see this for a minute… Stranger in line at Sushi Express Tel Aviv grabbing menu from hands

Will you switch places with me? I want my son to have a better view of the performance. Mother sitting one row behind at children’s opera program


What Next? June 17, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 2:57 am

It’s impossible to ignore the current Palestinian situation. What’s happening in Gaza – and its potential spillover into the West Bank- is gripping and frightening. And I don’t even live down there.

What’s troubling me, however, are reactions to the violence on the Anglo-average-citizen-living-in-Israel-with-a-computer side of the fence i.e. the number of glib posts popping up in the blogosphere.

The “I told you so’ers”, The “see how these people are” illustrators, the “serves them right after all we’ve been through” justifiers…

And frankly, that shit ain’t right, as my friend R.C. used to say.

Because, yeah, sure, hating the Palestinians en masse when suicide bombings or kidnappings or lynchings have gone down is natural as reactions go.

But asserting that an armed band of thugs is characteristic of the whole…well that’s like saying the weapon-heavy rebels of Sudan or Sierra Leone or anywhere are characteristic of the nation they are holding at bay with terrorist tactics. Or like saying that Baruch Goldstein speaks for us all.

He doesn’t and the nutter Hamas don’t and there is nothing here to gloat about or feel righteous indignation over.

Years ago I worked for a tyrant boss. You name it and he was guilty: verbal abuse, threats, cheating and lying to gain an upper hand and abusing his position to make overt sexual advances..My colleagues and I hated him. And we hoped for his demise.

Eventually our wish was realized and he was fired. It was a tremendous blow because he held a senior position within a very respected company.

You’d think we’d have been delighted. But we weren’t. Because he had a family to support and at the end of the day, we had compassion for his downfall.

Revenge and out of place holier than thou preachings are not a virtue.

The everyday Joe-Citizens of Gaza are terrified and in trouble and they need help and compassion – not the kumbaya type but real time solutions brought about by governments rallying behind the moderates.

We had all better hope for the best for the people down there and in the West Bank because their future is intrinsically tied in with mine. And yours.


No Pyramid, Please June 13, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 8:15 am

Dear Well-Intentioned Friends:

Please don’t misunderstand; This next bit is meant in the most loving and affectionate tone I can muster:

Stop with the agel.

Because when you call me and say: “I have a great line of business I’ve gotten into and I think you’d be perfect for it!”

And I ask: “Really? What’s that?

And you reply: “I’m having a meeting at my house on Wednesday and I’ll tell you about it then…”

You lost me.

Yes I freelance from home; but that doesn’t mean I’ve got spare time on my hands for “wonderful new products” that you claim have changed your lives. If it changed your life then you don’t need me involved, now do you?

And by the way? if you’re not willing to brief me about the deal first I don’t have time to come by on Wednesday evening. I’m hecka busy. Way too busy for secretive generalization.

And as a reminder: I write and produce television for a living. I don’t sell a gel or any gel. Especially if it involves pressuring my other friends into getting involved so that I can make a buck.

Kiddos: I’m American. We INVENTED pyramid schemes. Sheeyit.


A New Era June 10, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 2:48 pm

Every day my son & I walk to his kindergarten. It’s good exercise and it gives us time to walk and talk – you know, that quality time thing.

Our route takes us past Tel Aviv’s main Sourasky Medical Center, more commonly referred to as Ichilov Hospital. It’s a beautiful, modern facility mostly thanks to the Arison Family – they own The Carnival Corporation and have poured mucho shekels into the hospital’s slick departments, transplant units and research facilities.

Today as we passed Ichilov, there were about half a dozen busy bees working outside the front gates erecting what you see here.

I knew right away what they were but nervously joked with one of the men: “They’re for washing sand off from the beach on the way home, right?”

He grinned.

“Are you doing this for the summer?” I asked with probably a wee hint of anxiety in my voice.

“No, no,” he shook his head. But I’m not convinced.

They’re chemical showers. So that in case Tel Aviv gets hit with a missile carrying a chemical warhead this scrubbing station will be put into action for affected victims prior to their hospitalization (should hospitalization be necessary, ahem)

“It doesn’t matter, we’ll die before we ever get close to the showers because there aren’t enough gas masks to go around,” my cousin Peggy joked when I relayed the news over the phone.

Ach. Garcon! A dirty Grey Goose martini straight up with olives please. Make it a double!


Movie Viewing & Conflict June 9, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 6:49 am

Things stay on low to medium simmer in these parts on what seems to be a constant basis. For months now the local press has been predicting an impending summertime conflict starring Israel and co-starring Syria.

Ach, ignore it I say. Ignore something long enough and maybe it’ll disappear. But it won’t. But I try anyway.

Trying involves opting for late night escapism via movie or television series viewing. The Sopranos or Grey’s Anatomy or last night, a jump into non-escapism i.e. watching the movie Blood Diamond.

For those who haven’t seen it, it’s a depiction of Sierra Leone’s 1990’s conflict: government forces versus rebels to the tune of the diamond industry fanning the flames on both sides.

Good timing on my part what with accused Liberian war criminal extraordinaire Charles Taylor (am I the only one who thinks “Chuck” and high tops when I hear his name?) boycotting his own trial this week.

Back to Blood Diamond. Whew. It went flat in some places and there were slight Hollywood bits that make you go “Aw c’mon..”.

But as Leonardo DiCaprio’s character spouted isms like “Howzit China?” or “Yah, Brew” I was reminded of colleagues hailing from Zimbabwe, Lesotho, South Africa & Kenya. They all hold key positions within their news organizations and have all seen or covered conflict on home turf or in a neighboring country.

In the 90’s, one Reuters friend used to boastfully point out that the company’s top producers, bureau chiefs and cameramen covering the hottest stories worldwide were all from Africa. He was one of them.

I also connected the dots implicating De Beers and the dirty diamond trade before running a reference check. Gee… I think that was the point.

The movie’s worth a look-see even if it’s not exactly escapist material.

Now I need to work on getting moi-self to Africa. And not on a UN mission or Safari, thanks much.


When the Heat’s On June 6, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 12:41 pm

Living ‘oer here yonder i.e. the Middle East i.e. Israel “takes it out of you”. You really don’t have to read the newspapers all that much or watch the news. The political and religious aura is pretty powerful and it doesn’t make for light n’ easy living.

The current heat wave we’re experiencing – temps in the 90’s, thanks much – also weighs matters down. Meteorologists are predicting a dangerously hot summer – the kind my friend Jeff refers to as “wading through chicken soup” whenever he has to venture from the comfort of air con into the thick humid heat of Tel Aviv outdoors in the summer.

Living in this heated climate definitely changes perspective. On many levels. But let’s keep it basic. My 5-year-old, for example, has taken to carrying bottled water wherever he goes and lately he’s been briefing me on the signs of/how to avoid sun stroke. He’s learning this stuff in kindergarten.

Could be things are heavy in these parts because it’s the 40th anniversary of the Six Day War. Israel got sooooooo much more than bargained for with that one. And forty years later solutions to the ongoing problematic result of that “conquest” are still beyond reach. Fun fun fun.

On a personal note I am missing home and family. The less-cumbersome-on-a-daily-basis-lifestyle of the U.S. sometimes seems soooooo appealing from over here. I look forward to vacationing with family and allowing the seemingly frivolous to take over: which mall to shop in? what film to see? how many books to check out at the library? where to get decent sushi? Large sigh of relief.

Until I get there for vacation, however, watching episodes of Grey’s Anatomy –
I’ve become a Grey’s junkie along with the masses worldwide, apparently – impacts my family-missing quotient significantly.

The doctor talk reminds me of my parents, the tragic bits evoke guilt for being sooooo far away and specifically, when George was trying to gross out Cristina by letting food fall out of his mouth during lunch in one episode, fond childhood memories of my brother drooling on purpose at the dinner table (when my mother was in the kitchen) to make me gag came rushing back.

I finished my windsurfing course and during the final lesson was able to “do the impossible and balance on the board” which is how the club manager described my graceful style. I managed to stay up on the board for very large chunks of time, actually. I’m still recommending the sport. Even for a trial lesson. It’s “refreshing”.

That’s all for now. Over & Out.