Stefanella's Drive Thru

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

Chick Versus Chick April 29, 2009

Confession time:  I stand alongside the global multitudes struggling to make ends meet during the current recession. Jobs are scant and it’s downright scary right now.  Especially as a single mom.

Luckily I rely upon faith, hope, networking, routine and friends to buoy me.  And thank goodness for chat rooms and friends’ IM & email messages discussing fear, job scarcity and struggles.  “Thank goodness” not in the Schadenfreude way; I’m grateful not to be alone.  

I felt loads better last week after watching a NY Times video profile of a laid off exec who had formerly managed multi-million dollar accounts and is now pushing a janitor’s broom.  His wife needs cancer treatments so guaranteed health insurance benefits are essential.  He can’t afford the luxury of leisurely looking around.

Instead he kicks off the covers at 4 a.m. each day, checks emails and sends out resumes to potential employers.  He then heads to his janitorial job where, during breaks, he sits in his car placing follow-up calls.  I don’t know if I was more blown away by his story or by his bravado in letting the world know what he currently gets up to between 9 and 5.

I, too, am working overtime at phoning contacts, tapping into networks, making new contacts and attempting to drum up work.

Which makes having to go up against female colleagues doubly frustrating.

I have spoken several times with a work contact about leads in news production.  And each time I talk with this woman  she asks: “But what about your son?  Do you have anyone to take care of him?  I mean he IS young.”

And each time I reassure her  that yes, I do have a network in place.  A really good one.  Not to worry, the childcare issue has never presented a problem.  I even have overnight babysitters.  “I HAVE A VILLAGE!!!” I internally dialogue. “So please, send the work my way.”

But she hasn’t so far.  And I don’t believe she ever will.  Because I don’t think she can wrap her head around my being a single mom and concommitantly producing television news.  Never mind that scores of anchors, producers, editors and camerawomen before me have done just that and are faring quite nicely. Or that I myself have done just that.

I’m being pre-packaged and labeled from the get-go and not only by this particular woman.  Recently a well-known anchorwoman told me:  “You certainly don’t want to work full time or get into a heavy career.  You have your son to think about.” She wasn’t asking.  She was stating how “it is”.    And I thought:  “But you’re so wrong!  By getting into something full time I AM thinking of my son. ”

It reminds me of the time I went to see U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright speak in San Francisco.  Someone in the audience asked if she regretted the choice of fast political track over full time mommy.  She explained that there isn’t a cookie-cutter path for all women – some are meant for careers, others to stay home with kids and others to do a range of things in-between.

But she told the packed house I DO believe there’s a special place in hell for women who give other women a hard time for the path they have chosen to follow.

And the room erupted in applause.

I don’t believe the women I mention here are malicious.  But their notions are misguided and create a certain level of frustration for me.

 

Until the Army April 20, 2009

My 7-year-old is doing really well in swimming.

He sailed through beginner, intermediate and advanced courses last year and has now been selected to join the city league swim team entailing twice-weekly practice training sessions.

Today was the 1st such session and when we  arrived, I had a word with the coach about vacation and how we should handle summer break.

Coach & I didn’t see eye to eye on a start date for my son.  I wanted immediate.  He favored end of summer.

“He’s now in serious training for the long haul,” coach explained.  “So what’s the rush? As I see it, I have him from now until he’s 18 when he goes into the army.”

JOLT.  I had NEVER directly correlated my son with army service in that kind of “oh it’s so obvious he’ll be going in at eighteen” kind of way.  Ever.  And here was this stranger casually linking the two.

Yes, it’s compulsory in Israel for 18-year-olds.  But MY son?  MY budding artist/swimmer?

I didn’t grow up with the concept so it’s totally foreign to me even though it’s ultra ingrained in Israeli society.  I can’t even think about it. I don’t want to.

Jolt aside, I won.  He started practice  today.

11 more years.

 

My Friend Jo April 19, 2009

Yesterday morning I found out my friend Jo died.  Via Facebook.

I knew Jo was ill & her condition rapidly deteriorating –  I had talked with her daughter in San Francisco earlier in the week.  But the Inbox message was shocking nonetheless.   It’s a sign of the times.  Notification via Facebook.  I don’t know if it would have been less impacting had there been a phone call.

I have been privileged so far in life  – I’ve lost no one close to me other than beloved pets.  This is a first & memories have been surfacing since receiving the news. I have cried intermittently.  It’s surreal.   What do I do with Jo’s address and phone number  in my contact list?

At one point when I was crying in my bedroom, my 7-year-old came in and wrapped his arms around me.  “It’s just like that in life sometimes, mom.  But you still have me.”

He doesn’t remember Jo but she visited him in the ICU after he was born, bringing him his copy of Goodnight Moon. She indulged his piano banging whenever we went ’round her place during his toddler years and she didn’t mind when he pulled out and scattered the cat and dog toys.  She was at his 1st birthday party, pouring herself a drink in the kitchen when I stormed in.

“The cake is horrible!” I panicked, my face flaming hot with embarrassment.  “Nobody’s eating it.  What do I do?”  Jo burst into raucous laughter.  “Tell them they don’t have to.  Let them off the hook,” she suggested.

I met Jo at the dog park when I moved to San Francisco in the 90’s.  We both had Golden Retrievers who became thick-as-thieves friends.   As publisher & editor of the reputable photo metro photography magazine, she gave me my first literary break as a reviewer of photographic works.

The years progressed and Jo & I attended photography lectures together, hung out in her kitchen, took the dogs for outings at Alamo Square, drove across the Golden Gate Bridge for a Thomas Friedman book signing and we shared. Gossip, hopes, dreams, disappointments, failings, family talk.  Jo was there snapping pictures at my City Hall civil marriage and she was there not long after offering refuge and comfort as the marriage went to pieces.

She was always ahead of her time with the latest Mac , scanner and photography gear, trying out digital but hanging onto her decades-old Leica.  When she discovered Photoshopping as a means of removing errors, she sat   for hours clicking away at dust particles and glitches.   The scanning phase…I don’t think there was a plant or flower for miles that didn’t get plucked up and pressed to the screen for scanning & photo-shopping.

Three years ago she was at the other end of the phone line as I sobbed.  My Golden Retriever Atticus had died.  Two days later she emailed. Her Golden, Chance, had perished suddenly  as well.  “Attie must have needed Chance.”  That comforted me – the thought of perhaps the two of them frolicking together in some parallel universe.

Rest,” she wrote “knowing that she is no longer in pain and that she will be with you always in the best of ways.  Don’t forget the (somewhat schmaltzy) crossing over the rainbow bridge where she will be waiting for you.

How apt.  Jo is no longer in pain.  And I hope she has crossed the rainbow bridge to meet her friends waiting on the other side.   When it’s my time to cross, I hope she’ll be waiting there for me  too.

 

Gold Teeth April 16, 2009

Lessons Learned Whilst Living with a 7-year-old:

Okay honey, time for bed.  Let’s brush teeth.

I don’t want to. Why do I have to brush my teeth anyway?

So they won’t fall out.

But if they fall out, I can get gold ones!

Over my dead body.

Okay then.  Silver.



 

Deal Making April 14, 2009

Characters:   7-year-old boy & 7-year-old boy’s Mother

Setting:  Dinner table in a Tel Aviv apartment.   7-year-old has finished eating.  His mother has not

7-year-old:  I’m finished.  Can I go play on the computer now?

Mother: Nope.  Sit with me until I’m finished.  It won’t take long.

7-year-old: (ponders for a moment) How about we make a deal?

Mother: Uhum.  What kind of deal?

7-year-old: If you let me go play on the computer now, I promise that when you’re old and in a wheelchair I’ll push you wherever you need to go and I’ll buy you things so you won’t have to spend your money.  Okay?

 

Easter Greetings April 12, 2009

It’s Easter Sunday and I’ve been trolling the someecards site for clever greetings to mark the occasion.  I chose a few of my favorites & I’m linking here & here

To those celebrating:  Enjoy your holiday.

I was planning to head up to Jerusalem and walk the Via Dolorosa then go on into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to light a candle for those of you who couldn’t make it to Holy Land Central in person today.  But I changed my mind.

eastereggs

Going to the beach and a movie instead.

Happy Easter Anyway!!

Your friend, Stef

 

Mid-East Advertising April 6, 2009

What kind of crazy advertising do they get up to in Israel?  Judge fer yerself.

Thanks to my very funny friend Benji for this one – Benji blogs over at What War Zone.

I am trying to imagine this mini-van with its logo and image of the guy on the magic throne bumping along the streets of my parent’s manicured, Ohio condo community. AHHHH!!!

plumber2