Rating the news

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A lot of friends and readers have wanted to hear more of my opinions. For example, my most popular post on Facebook last year was a status I wrote right after Operation Pillar of Defense began.

“Several friends and family have been reading about the recent military conflict between Israel and Gaza and wanted to know if my friends and I are okay. Thankfully, so far, the answer is yes. I appreciate your thoughts and concerns. In the next day or so, I’m going to write as objective a post as I can write about the history of this conflict and what’s currently going on. Sending my love and hopes for peace.”

I unfortunately never got around to writing the post because I experienced so many things during the conflict that it was hard for me to articulate all of my thoughts in a timely enough manner. Sorry Facebook friends.

So, I’m trying to devise ways to share more of my opinions about current events without needing the time nor energy to create well-formulated posts. I’d also like to do this in a way that’s insightful for the reader versus just fluff.

Rating the news

Because I’m a journalist, I’m reading news ALL the time. I often have a gut reaction about a piece, whether that’s positive or negative.

Now, I’m going to post articles I read and categorize them in 1 of 3 ways:

1) Stuff that makes me mad

2) Stuff that makes me happy

3) Sh*t is complicated

Because news in Israel is often so complicated, I may end up double-categorizing many pieces. But still, I think this will help me share current issues that are important as well as my take on things.

If you have other suggestions for how I should rate news, let me know!

Last, a fun GIF to top things off, :).

thumbs up and down

 

So far this year, being a woman is more deadly than terror in Israel

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(This post was recently re-published onto the Jerusalem Post’s blog site.) I can’t count the number of terror related articles I have read in the last year about Israel. On the other hand, I’ve probably only read a few dozen articles over the same period of time about Israeli women facing domestic violence.

With this kind of media focus on conflict many Israeli women, myself included, are more afraid of terror than their intimate partners. However, the data reveals another story.

The Women’s International Zionist Organization just announced that the number of women that have been killed by partner violence in Israel so far this year is 19this is more than nine times the number of Israeli women that have been killed in terrorist related incidents in 2012, including Operation Pillar of Defense. Only two women have been killed in terror attacks so far this year. Furthermore, the number of people in general that have been killed in terror incidents in Israel in 2012 is 14: this is five people less than the total number of women that have been killed by their partners.

As a journalist and a woman, this gives me a lot to think about. Any thoughts from readers?

PHOTO: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST

Website’s got a brand new bag

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Or, more specifically, design. What do you think? You like it? Don’t like it? Think it could be improved in some way? Think it rules? Whatever the case may be, I’d love your feedback.

The idea is that I wanted the website to look a bit cleaner, more professional, and less “bloggy.” This is why I chose this theme so that the pages “about me” were more prominent. I also added an additional page at the top called “Professional Services” to direct more people to my technical writing services. You think the website is conveying this concept effectively? Let me know what you think. Thanks.

Why aren’t you still doing stand up?

I was talking to a colleague at work who I often joke around with in English. He’s awkward, I’m awkward — At the minimum, we make each other laugh. He mentioned trying to do stand up comedy, to which I told him that I used to do stand up as a hobby. He said, “yeah? When can I see you?”

Well, I don’t really do stand up anymore, I replied. At least not in Israel. I haven’t been terribly inspired.

A large part of it is because I’m happier. Now I have Uri, my wonderful boyfriend. Before, many of my stand up ideas came from failed relationships and bad dates that ranged from uncomfortable to humiliating.

Actually a poster for a show in Palo Alto, CA by Dragon Productions Theatre Company…  so random.

At one of my lowest moments, I was on a date through an online dating site. And yes, that was only the beginning of the embarrassment.

He was mostly interested in me because I mentioned that I did stand up as a hobby. He showed this by only asking questions about my stand up. Whenever I tried to ask him about himself, he’d somehow manage to bring it up back to my stand up. Well, when you talk about stand up, you’re almost never very funny. And I wasn’t. And he didn’t think I was either: I eeked out only a few half laughs of the pitying variety. So I spent a date talking about my stand up, which is in-and-of-itself intimate, and I wasn’t even funny. What a fail.

However, the other key inspiration for my comedy writing was from politics. For example, I used to do a pretty good Sarah Palin impersonation (this also shows how long ago I was doing stand up). My twist was that I would imitate Sarah Palin trying to court black voters. It was some seriously politically incorrect, hilarious stuff.

I’m a journalist now, which means I’m more tuned into politics than ever. But I still don’t feel comfortable doing stand up here, I explained to my colleague. Again, he asked why?

One, my Hebrew’s not nearly good enough to do stand up. That requires a level of fluency that’ll take me years to get.

But more than that, I’m an immigrant. Part of why I loved doing stand up in the U.S. was because I felt like I understood the culture well enough to create jokes that would make most people laugh. I can’t do that here yet; I’m still a foreigner.

It’s sort of like the difference between being Fez, a first generation immigrant character that’s laughed at on That 70’s Show (Courtesy of Hot Rod Homepage)…

and Margaret Cho, a second generation immigrant who’s made a career out of making fun of her immigrant mother. (Courtesy of Greginhollywood)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“So do jokes in English for other Anglo olim (new immigrants),” my colleague suggested. His assumption is accurate. I should at least feel like I have enough in common with new immigrants to make jokes that could resonate with that crowd.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for me. Many of the English-speaking immigrants that move here don’t have much in common with me. Many of them are perfectly nice, but are usually more religious and/or more right-wing. I get along with them circumstantially because we’re in the same boat. But when it comes to making jokes, I don’t feel like we have enough in common to be inspired to write stand up.

Jokes require the audience to relate to you. Here, frankly, I don’t feel all that relatable. Being a progressive, secular, Anglo-speaking, Jewish immigrant in Israel makes me stick out like a sore thumb.

In another conversation about bi-culturalism with my friend Leora, whose parents are Israeli but has lived most of her life in the U.S., I told her that I felt like I was in a no-man’s land. Culturally, I don’t really know where I fit anymore. In Israel, I am an immigrant without a community, and in the US, I’m an expat. This feeling of isolation has been one of the hardest parts about emigrating.

This is also why I haven’t had any impulse to write stand up since I moved here.

On the flip side, there have been many additions to my life since moving to Israel that would not have happened in the U.S. First, I fell in love with Uri. This fact is so powerful and amazingly, so simple, that there’s little I can say beyond how grateful I am that I found Uri.

Second, I entered journalism, my true calling. Likely, I may have never pursued journalism if I had stayed in the U.S. The complexities and richness of life in Israel inspired my career switch, and really, are much of what I love about living here.

With every change, there are benefits and sacrifices. I still joke around thankfully. I’d get bored with myself otherwise. For example, I wrote a post recently about mixing up the words for engagement and masturbation in Hebrew.

However, I see my stand up as a hobby that has been deferred. In truth, my stand up may have been lost in the move. Thankfully, online dating was also lost in the move. I think I can live with that.

Hebrew update: Some progress and a dirty joke

*Warning: There’s a little bit of strong language later in the piece. For those that don’t want to proceed, don’t. For everyone else, you’re probably now more titillated to read the piece (That was a pun).

Yes, I have been hibernating and studying and not just hibernating and wasting time, although I have been watching a good deal of Glee lately. There have been ups and downs, which have been mostly psychological: Am I actually improving? Did I start learning a foreign language too late in life to speak it without making a lot of mistakes? Will this agony ever end, or more specifically, when will those coworkers down the hall stop making fun of my Hebrew?

Thankfully, once I stop beating myself up, I can see that my studying is producing results. For example, a while back during Purim, I spent the weekend with a bunch of Israeli friends in Sde Boker. For the first time, I was able to actually speak in Hebrew for almost the entire weekend! I was both able to understand the majority of conversations and quick enough to respond most of the time. This was a huge step for me. Because I have been able to continue speaking in English, especially at work (I work for an English-language newspaper, after all), sometimes it’s been hard to gauge how far my Hebrew has come. This weekend was a much-needed ego boost.

This year, I dressed up as Ashton Kutcher for Purim. People say there is a resemblance: You be the judge.

Also, when I stay with Uri at his family’s place, he often has conversations with his parents in the living room while I’m chilling in his room, which is a door away. He’ll then translate these conversations for me, especially if he’s talking about something that relates to me. Gradually over time, I’ve been able to understand more and more of their conversations. Last time, every time he came back he would start to translate and I would say, “Yes Uri, I heard.” He then pointed this out: “Laura, you can understand everything now! We can’t hide anything from you anymore!” I certainly hope that’s true…

But, with progress, there are always funny language mistakes along the way. This one has to be the best Hebrew mess-up I’ve had in Israel lately, and perhaps, ever. I was at a bar with a friend and trying to explain that another friend had recently gotten engaged. However, instead of saying “Hee hayta me’oresset,” which means she got engaged, I said, “Hee hayta me’onnenet.” They both sound similar, and I had learned both words within a few days of each other. When my friend started bursting with laughter, and asked, “Hee hayta me’onnenet al ma?” (“al ma” means “about what?”), I understood that I said the other word… which meant that I told him, “She was masturbating.”  I can tell you this: I’ll never forget either word now.

Lesson learned? Humiliation is the best way to remember the difference between love and masturbation. Or, just acquire a new language. You choose.

A picture of a drunk guy for good measure (Courtesy of Bistrosavage).

Hibernating and studying

Hi everyone,

I’m taking a break from writing for the time being to concentrate on becoming fluent in Hebrew. Since I came to Israel 16 months ago, I’ve been busy advancing two goals professionally: writing and learning Hebrew. However, I’ve been spending more time on the former than the latter. This made some sense, especially in the beginning, because I was entering journalism and needed to develop my portfolio in order to gain credibility. But now that I’ve written a number of pieces that I’m proud of, I need to face the music and study. Otherwise I won’t advance here professionally, or frankly, personally.

What learning Hebrew has looked like thus far. (Courtesy of Moriza at Creative Commons)

What learning Hebrew will hopefully look like (Courtesy of Brewbooks at Creative Commons)

What this also means is that when I start writing again, I’ll be able to do much more because I’ll be able to interview in Hebrew, which will open a whole lot of doors. So, stay tuned. In the mean time, I’ll write sporadic personal updates, but nothing professional for a while.

Hope you’re all doing well.

 

Churning it out… Any ideas?

Well, so far I’ve been one of those writers that sits and stews on pieces for a while, and then all of a sudden, I post several articles within a short period of time. Unfortunately, this does not bode so well for regular blogging…

One of my editors told me recently that in order to stay on the Jpost blog site (especially because they’re looking to cut the bloggers down substantially), I’ll need to start writing once a week. He wanted me to stay, but cautioned me that I’d have to post more frequently. Eeck! It that was a kick in the butt to pump up my game. Which I’m trying to do.

This means that my approach to blogging will have to change. Instead of writing longer posts and posting less frequently, which is what I have been doing, I will have to write shorter posts but post more frequently. This means I will either describe short, clear stories, or spread out a piece over several posts.

Which leads me to ask you, my loyal readers, some valuable questions: If I could write about anything about Israel, what would most interest you? Which posts of mine have you liked more, and would like to see more of? Any and all ideas would be appreciated! Thanks!

Courtesy of lovelihood at Creative Commons

A word for losing a child

I wrote a new Jpost post reflecting on the fact that there’s a word in Hebrew for someone that loses a child. There’s a clip from Six Feet Under to compare Americans’ v. Israelis’ attitudes towards death. I guess there’s a reason I went back to Hebrew classes; language reveals so much. Let me know what you think.

PR photo

Six Feet Under PR Photo

Ch-ch-ch-changes: Part II

First, I must thank many of you who reached out to me after my last post. Your positive energy was much appreciated. I think it worked, because not only did I land my first contract writing gig, I also got rehired for my editing position. Yipee! The contract writing will be a part-time grant writing job that I can do from Israel. That’s a very exciting development and lovely way for me to step back into the nonprofit world. Then, the story about my position, well…how about you read this Jpost post, titled, “Working it: Some advice about journalism in Israel,” to get the full picture? :).

In any case, I’m very excited for these next steps and really appreciate all of your support. Hope you’re doing well, and look forward to seeing many of you in the Bay Area over Thanksgiving!

Courtesy of lovelihood at Creative Commons.

 

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Courtesy of qthomasbower at Creative Commons

Turn and face the strain, ch-ch-changes…

So yes, I have been going through some ch-ch-ch-changes lately. Which is partly why I’ve been a bit out of touch writing-wise. First, I moved to a new apartment! I basically moved from the less-hip border to the more-hip border of Tel Aviv’s African area. I suppose a little bit of Senegal always stayed with me, :).  This is both exciting because of the location and the fact that my place is a bunch nicer. These days, I’m all about improving my quality of life. Struggling is not as sexy or as sanctimonious as it once was.

The other change is professional. As some of you know, I was hired as a magazine editor for the Jerusalem Post on a maternity leave contract for six months. The woman I replaced is returning to her position in December, which means I am in the midst of finding work. Thankfully, I won’t be completely saying goodbye to the Post: I will keep my blog and will be proofreading part-time as well.

I am trying to take this change as an opportunity in disguise. Over the course of the last year, I have realized my true passion is writing. However, for me this can come in many forms. Much to my surprise, I even enjoyed editing a children’s magazine. So, even if the subject is not 100% my cup of tea, I still enjoy the work because it involves writing and being creative.

This realization also helped me understand that I want to get back into the nonprofit world. Part of why I burned out is because I went into nonprofit work believing my passion would be advocating for an issue. With this logic, it would just take time to figure out what that issue was. However, I was not as inspired by this as I thought I would be. I only found this passion when I began to write for a living.

Now, I am really excited to start consulting nonprofits and social profits on their communications! This would combine my newfound passion for writing and my first love for social justice issues. Considering I am between jobs, this seems like as good a time as any to try being self-employed, which is something I have been thinking about for a while.  Additionally, I hope this will also give me more time to pursue my own journalistic writing. 

So, friends and colleagues, if you know of anyone needing help with research, grant writing, evaluation planning or reporting, press releases, op-eds, website content, and marketing materials, I would be deeply grateful for referrals! I can work global hours and do video chats via Skype or Google Video.

Thank you all for your support throughout my first year in Israel and I look forward to being in touch.

Courtesy of Guy Sharett

Picture of Florentin, my new neighborhood! Courtesy of my friend Guy Sharett