An American in Israel

To the left, we have the human map of Israel.  Moi.  Day one of my trip and I was already volunteering and up to my usual antics.  However that was the only thing that remained usual in those 10 days I spent across the globe.

Whether it was because I had done little research on the country’s aesthetics due to my lack of interest in visiting or my love of stereotypes, I had absolutely no idea I would find myself in such a wonderful and heavenly place.  I also had no idea that when people warned me about the intense heat during the summer there that it would be an understatement.  I mean wow.  Holy hotness.   As silly as it sounds, I was expecting more of an Amish way of life rather than the modern country that I fell in love with.  It wasn’t all sunshine and roses right away though. Because of the overly cautious person that I am, I was alarmed every time I heard a sound or saw a lone bag that I immediately decided was a bomb.  Again, silly.  Especially in a place that’s even more cautious than I am and with good reason.  Due to everything that has happened in that teeny, New Jersey-sized sliver of a state, they have visibly armed guards with tour groups, and security at most public areas.  Of course you can’t prevent everything, but you can sure as hell try.  And they are.  This, however takes some time getting used to and once you are, you come to realize you are actually safer there than you are running around in the US where threats are less assuming.   This wasn’t always the case in Israel, but after several history lessons, group discussions and the bazillion questions I asked our guides and Israeli peers that were traveling with us, I began to relax and not freak out as much when I heard something or saw someone that I deemed suspicious.DSC03829 Who knows, maybe I looked suspicious to them!  I’m sure I whipped up a few unreconizable facial expressions every now and then.

All safety issues aside, the overall feeling in Israel is that of the utmost spirituality.  I get it.  It is the holiest place on Earth and draws you in like a magnet.  The air is crisp, sky is blue, palm trees green, the buildings beige and almost sparkle.   You can’t avoid being moved and overcome with thoughts and feelings and perspective when you’re there.   The structures and architecture, history, and passion that seep from every corner and conversation could easily bring a normally reserved and un-phased person to tears.

This brings us to propaganda.  Nothing upsets me more than people, Jewish like myself, saying that the Birthright trip is a bunch of Israeli propaganda and brain-washing.  Propaganda shmopaganda.  Um, if about 50,000 foreigners were flown to the US every few months to learn and see what all the hoopla was about, wouldn’t we proudly tell them what they came to hear?  Do we not as people instantly defend or promote what we are and know?  And in most cases, aren’t we all a bit of a patriot when talking about where we are from?   I can’t imagine why any young Jewish person wouldn’t take the opportunity to go to Israel for free if they had the chance.  Why turn down the chance of a lifetime?  Literally.  I never thought of paying for myself to go there over let’s say, Italy, but now having been, I’d vacation there or go to bring me back down to Earth when life takes over.  I’ve never felt so much and reflected as much as I did when I was laying under the stars in the Negev Desert.  I don’t even know the last time I saw, or if I’ve ever seen a shooting star in LA or stopped to look for them.  Now that’s just sad.

Hopefully I will keep my promise to myself and remember and incorporate everything I experienced in Israel so that it becomes second nature.  If nothing else, that I am just a tiny speck in the larger scheme and at the end of the day very few of the things we worry most about are actually important.

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Funny People!

Every Wednesday night I get together with the special people in Ithamar Enriquez’ Conservatory 4 class at the Second City Training Center Los Angeles to pitch sketch ideas and cast scenes just like we are producing SNL.  These scenes are then performed again in our improv shows before a live audience.   We are collecting material that will soon be used in our 8 week show run once we graduate from Conservatory Level 5.  What ever makes the audience laugh will stay, and whatever doesn’t, well…it will probably also stay!  Just kidding folks.  Here’s a sample of what we’ve been up to…

Want to see more?  You can still catch us on April 11 and 25 at 7PM.  And the best part?  The show costs a whopping ZERO f-ing dollars.  I know, I know.  It just seems too good to be true.  And it is.  Hope to see you all there!

Eyes up here, thanks.

Have you noticed that over the years you’ve been seeing a lot more of people’s eyelids?  Way back when, you’d never see a guy’s eyelids unless they were sleeping or for those females out there, if they were staring at your chest.  You’d see a female’s eyelids because she uses eye shadow and other eye makeup.  But now, you almost see more lids than actual eyes because everyone is staring down…at their cell phone.

I am definitely part of this group.  I literally walk around emailing, texting, bbming, tweeting, and Facebooking.  It’s amazing I haven’t been hit by a car or walk right into a pole.  That’s how often I look down at my phone.  Forget about texting and driving being a hazard to everyone’s safety; texting and walking is just as harmful!  I like to think of myself as a great multitasker, however I could realistically respond when I am no longer moving about.

That goes for social interactions as well.  How many times have you sat at a table where everyone’s cell phones are placed somewhere near their silverware?  Last time I checked, you don’t need a cell phone to eat.  And the worst is when someone actually answers the phone at the table.  Unless it’s an emergency, real crisis, or a business lunch, it just shouldn’t happen.   Or how about when someone is texting with someone else while hanging out with you?  Um hey, how about what’s going on here rather than over there?  Be present!  This was one of my New Year’s resolutions and I haven’t done a great job of curbing my texting habits, but I am trying.  I also tend to text if I see the person I’m with is doing it because then it feels less rude since they are already being rude.  Work-related things are excusable but anything other than that can wait.

I’ve become so socially dependent on my phone through texting and emails that when the phone actually rings I get scared.  Having an actual conversation gives me anxiety because I have to think quickly and there might even be some awkward silence, oh my!

I am going to change my ways now, before it’s too late and I become incapable of real life conversation.  I vow to disconnect during meals, driving and walking for that matter, and plans with friends and family.  Who’s with me?