Monday, November 22, 2004

A Few Announcements

The good news, and the bad news . . .

1. The Good News: I got a New York phone number that rings in my Jerusalem apartment. For the price of $25/month, I can now make unlimited calls to the US and Canada. Perhaps more importantly, people in the US can now call me, for the same price they'd pay for any call to New York. Which means that I can now pitch article ideas that are USA-based, and do phone interviews, and when I call people to interview them they might actually call me back. Before, I always left my email address on people's machines because no one ever calls back when you give an Israel number. It's a psychological thing. They might even have a good phone plan; it might cost them only pennies to call me; but Americans seem very intimidated by the thought of international dialing. I've found that many Americans actually have no idea that one must dial 011 to make an international call (I sure didn't, before I started having to call Israel). If you say "country code 972" they have no idea what that means! So, now I'm soooooo communicationally equipped, and I can call friends and family every day if I want, and those people I need to interview don't even need to know that I live outside of America. Yippee!!!

2. More Good News: I got an oven! Did I write about this yet? Maybe, but I'm so excited about it. Last Shabbat I made a whole, roasted chicken, stuffed with my mother's awesome stuffing recipe (well, the stuffing, not the recipe). It came out of the oven warm, ready to be carved, golden brown on the top, yellow-crispy on the bottom, and with the juices flowing and the meat practically falling off the bone. And the stuffing was amazing. I'm telling you, when I took that golden, crispy-tender chicken out of my new oven, I felt like Betty Crocker. It's a whole new world. I plan not to make shnitzels again for at least a year.

That was practice, of course, for the turkey I plan to make for Thanksgiving. Can anyone recommend a website that shows how to carve a turkey properly? (Thanks, Rachel, for showing me how to carve the chicken).

3. Bad News: This is old, actually, but I never got around to posting about it. So, some of you might, perhaps, be wondering why I never write about fencing anymore. And the answer is that I gave up on it, at least for now. After attending the fencing club in Jerusalem a few times, I realized that it doesn't offer what I need.

See, what I love about fencing isn't the fencing. It's not about the game, for me. It's not about beating my opponent. For me, the joy of fencing comes from the lessons, be they group or one-on-one. I love practicing the footwork, learning new steps and combinations, being made to coordinate the bladework with my feet, learning strategies for avoiding traps and tricking my opponent. I love improving my technique. I love the way it feels to do a perfect retreat-advance-advance-lunge while simultaneously executing a counter-4, counter-6, disengage, and attack straight to the heart. I love the feeling of dancing ballet on a chessboard. I love the click-click-click of the blades as you beat your teacher further and further back, knowing that you are improving, knowing that your whole body - your legs, your arms, your eyes, your brain - is working as one unit. The game itself, the time playing against an opponent, is incidental to me.

The other thing I love about fencing is the people. People who fence tend to be interesting and polite, usually. At my club in New York I became acquainted with folks of all ages, in all sorts of careers. Most of them fenced better than I did and were happy to advise me when I asked.

But at the club here, I don't get lessons. I'm just thrown onto the strip to fence, and to fence a weapon I've never played before, with no guarantee that I'll ever "earn" one-on-one time with a coach to be trained. I'm not fencing, I'm just waving a stick in the air.

And, while the kids are, in fact, polite, it's hard to communicate because they speak Hebrew and Russian, not English. Plus, I'm one of the only adults there, whereas in New York there was a range of ages. The kids and the adults worked together. We didn't treat each other according to age, but according to commitment and maturity. In Jerusalem, I'm just the "old lady" whose presence is tolerated politely because I'm not hurting anyone.

So, I'm sad to say it, but my foils and epee and mask and custom-made jacket and knickers are all going into storage. I consider this the third-hardest loss involved in my Aliyah, after leaving friends/family, and leaving my language. If the club here ever starts a program for "grown-ups" that involves lessons, I'll probably go back. Until then, I'll keep the click-click-click in my heart.

4. Consolation: Now I'll have more time to go back to Contact Improv. And eventually I'd like to learn to tap. There's always something new in Chayyei Sarah. En guarde.

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