Wednesday, December 29

fanfare & drumroll, please ...

It's official. Squarepeg has landed a Serious Job.

I signed today with a very respectable (:-P) company not too, too far from home (20-40 min. drive, depending on traffic). The deal includes a car and a very decent salary, not to mention subsidized lunches at the great restaurants in the area, a subsidized gym membership (critical when food is abundant, delicious and cheap), and of course Life Insurance. This whole package is standard for the Israeli hi-tech sector, and man, it's nice to be back.

Oh, and very nice people ... of which I am now one. [insert angel with halo icon here]

It's been three and a half years since I worked in a hi-tech company ... anybody remember that huge "bang!" in spring of 2001? Yep, I've been wandering in the wilderness since the bubble burst. Since then: a full year of UI benefits which included an interesting and somewhat useful course in Sales & Marketing (subsidized by the Labor Ministry); a fizzled attempt at a muffin business (way too much work for tiny returns); and two years back in Toronto, mostly floating (work-wise) in a "dream job" of sales in a mega-bookstore -- reading (and walking, and shelving) all day ... and, oh yeah, office temping.

Good times.

So with the New Year will come a New Job, a New Era, and naturally a New Life, in which harmony and happy times will reign and there will be World Peace and no further Natural Disasters of earth, wind, fire and water.

What I'm trying to say is, Mr. Squarepeg is finally off my case.

Tuesday, December 28

my nasty addiction


Shalom, shmi SquarePeg v'ani blogoholisteet. Hi, my name is SquarePeg and I'm a blogoholic.

"Shalom SquarePeg!"

That's how I imagine it would go if there was a Blogolics Anonymous group here in the burg.

It's true I've been an Internet addict for a long time, but the illness has ramped up drastically in the past few months with my initiation into the blogosphere. Recently, I've felt like my blog-surfing was spinning out of control, with every link leading to another blogroll that carried me deeper into cyberian hypnosis. I stop to snack -- something trans-fat-rich, easily opened and nibbled at the computer -- but not to cook. I growl at my daughter when she comes looking for dinner. I refuse to take my hand off the mouse or my eyes from the screen.

My husband has started a new game: He comes up beside me and puts his hand over my mouse-hand and wiggles the mouse, as if to say this is the only way to attract my attention.

But two days ago, the malady spiked dangerously into the next level. Because on December 26, 2004, I suddenly discovered BlogExplosion. And if you're reading these words, the odds are very good that you have too.

There's probably a whole lot more addictive stuff out there, but right now BlogExplosion (BE) looks to me like the Internet's crack cocaine, and I'm hooked bad.

This is how it works, for those few readers of mine who have managed, so far, to resist the temptation to get high on this nasty stuff: You go to; you sign up your blog; you click on Surf Member Blogs. That's all you have to do, and from that moment on, every click gets you a new, often amazing blog displayed on your screen. These are great blogs, many of which I've "blogmarked" (saved like Favorites to view later), many of them with gorgeous designs that leave the free Blogspot templates like mine eating dust.

But that's just the beginning.

If you wait 30 seconds to click for a new blog, you earn BE credits that automatically send other BE surfers to YOUR blog. So, the more you click to see others, the more hits you get. AND there's a page where you can check this instantly: how many people have actually visited you through BE, how many have blogmarked you, and whether they've left comments or rated you. Yesterday, 70 people viewed my site that otherwise never would have! AWESOME!

Sure, lots of people think I suck, but once in a while someone sticks around for a page or two, and a couple have left comments. I never know when that will happen, but when it does, it's a big rush.

And of course, the biggest lesson we learned from Pavlov and his dogs about behavioral modification is that random reinforcement is the surest way to entrench a pattern of behavior.

Naturally, I could quit any time. But I don't want to!

I love reading the thoughts of other writers, especially those living completely different experiences, and knowing they're reading mine. This addiction, like all addictions, is filling a need -- the need to connect in a life of too few connections. Until I get a job offer, this is my best idea for "getting a life". It may be as transient as pouring water into a hole on a sandy beach, but at least there are no calories ( ... ok, there are when I run for snacks... ) and I'm not hurting anyone but myself ( ... ok, maybe my neglected family, not to mention my own writing ... ) but there are worse ways to kill time while waiting for the phone to ring, right?

Can't a miserable job-hunter get a little sympathy here?

Oy, I suppose I could cut down a little.


Sunday, December 26

"it's so hard to find good help"

Could that possibly be the most obnoxious, elitist sentence of all time?

And yet, it is I who am saying it. Because I really hate to clean house, and finding a cleaner has become harder work than doing it myself.

I seem to have bad cleaning lady karma. Soon after the last one left, never to be seen again, I miraculously heard of an English-speaking woman, quite new in the country, looking for cleaning jobs. I thought I was very lucky indeed, but she turned out to be a worse cleaner than I am, and I really didn't think that was possible. Certainly not in one actually taking money for doing it.

I could tell, even the first time she was here, that there was a problem. She left half the kitchen untouched, bits of dirt on the freshly-washed floors, streaks on the mirrors, a floor rag hung on a personal towel, unvacuumed sections behind anything that would require even slight moving, and caps from cleaning products forgotten around the house. And she never even got to the small balcony, layered in dust. I always thought my standards were low, but for the very first time in my decade of experience with cleaning ladies, I was walking around the apartment noticing places that hadn't been dusted, or were left with dirty streaks. There was none of the usual satisfaction and relief at a shiny home in exchange for hard-won shekels.

Having assumed she knew what she was doing, I had tried to leave her to her work without bothering her, but that clearly had not been the right choice. I hoped that if I worked with her the next time, things would go more smoothly.

However, the second time was equally problematic. I had to teach her how to wash the floor properly so that she wouldn't be leaving small puddles around the house, and I had to ask her to do several tasks a second time because they appeared to be not done at all. The kitchen counter she said she'd cleaned was still covered with crumbs and grease spots. And again, she "forgot" to do the kitchen sink. I was really sounding to myself like a nag, and the experience was giving me more stress than benefit.

Still, I was desperate to have someone once in two weeks, and cleaners are very scarce around here. Let's just consider this better than nothing, I thought, and carry on. Surely she'll improve with experience.

The third time was much the same, but this time with a twist: Five days after being here, she called to ask if we'd found the 150 shekels I'd paid her, as she had apparently mislaid it and thought she left it here. I got this message from Mr. S. when I got home, and just rolled my eyes at the endless problems with the woman. She didn't call back again until 2 days later, when she left a message that "the cleaning is not working out" and she wouldn't be back.

I must say, I felt only relief, as I've said to the cleaning-obsessed Mr. S. several times that it would be easier to clean the house myself rather than go through this anymore with someone who is obviously not suited for the job. The last one -- though she proved to be untrustworthy -- was a brilliant cleaner, ten times better than I am, as you'd expect from a pro.

So why am I left with this yucky feeling like I've been fired?

Saturday, December 25

blockbuster rant

Hey, merry xmas everybody! Or festivus. Whatever.

I spent all morning (that would be xmas-eve morning in the the goyish world) watching The Bourne Supremacy on dvd. Wow, except for those standardly extended fight and car chase scenes, pretty fascinating screwed-up espionage movie. And beautifully shot. The scenes were luscious. It was so interesting, I watched the WHOLE thing again with the director's commentary. (Hey, don't judge; I'm fighting an internet addiction here.)

Probably because of the philosophy of film lectures I've been attending, I focussed on the dehumanization aspect of politics and power at play in the fabric of society, not that that's new or original, but it's what I love about movies at their best: tapping into the meaning of it all, exploring the directions we choose to go with our free will. The character of Bourne is very interesting in that he has evolved and continues to evolve, and he gives us some optimism vis a vis what we might have thought was irredeemable dehumanization.

There are points of light, but they do seem to shine brighter because of wisdom gained the hard way. I'm starting to think maybe there really isn't any road to wisdom other than that one.

Unfortunately, accessing the dvd's requires dealing with one of only two video/dvd rental places here in the burg: Blockbuster and a branch of a local chain. I haven't been to the local chain store for a long time, preferring the more spacious ambience of the Blockbuster layout, but I'm starting to get really pissed off at the lousy service there. What is up with them? They have two, sometimes three counter staff and nobody else in the whole store, for hundreds of customers at the busiest times of the week (Thursday evening and Friday all day, till sundown). Because nobody is shelving the movies, there's nothing left on the shelves. To find out if any of the new movies you want are available, you have to wait in a 10-minute line just to get your turn to ask the counter staff if they're in one of several piles of returned movies behind the counter.

But even worse: Blockbuster has had a new marketing program going for a while that causes the lineups to grow very long as each customer is given a spiel about package deals, which you buy on punch cards of 4 movies. And THEN each punch card they buy also has a little "scratch to see what you won" section, which of course the customer has to do right there in front of the clerk, while the lineup continues to grow. Even if you're renting a movie with a previously-bought punch card (i.e. no money needs to change hands), their whole procedure takes 5-10 minutes because of the questions customers need to ask about movies they can't find, while the clerk runs around searching the piles. Meanwhile, the phone rings off the hook and nobody answers it. The really idiotic, inefficient thing about Blockbuster is they seem to have made a point of NOT selling 10, 20, or 30-movie deals, as the other store (local chain) does. At the other place, you pay for a quantity up front, and then you breeze through the cash very quickly. Blockbuster always used to charge per movie, no package deals. Then I guess they saw the competition maybe had a point, so they start complicating our lives with these piddly 4-movie punch cards, and they try to get you to buy several. That's what takes so long at the counter!

But HELLOOOOOO! There are more efficient ways of doing this, people! Weekend = time to watch movies, which means you need more hands on deck on Thursdays and Fridays, and more copies of the new movies! Obviously, there's not enough competition for the service. In the area of Toronto I lived in, there were 3 other competitors within walking distance, besides the 2 nearby BB's. They HAD to try harder.

Thursday, December 23

sperm swimming upstream

That's what job-hunting competition feels like. I am one of millions (ok, realistically, probably hundreds, but it might as well be millions) of teeny-tiny organisms rushing to score every time a job opening is published. What are the odds I will be the one to penetrate the great ovum-company, the one destined to thrive and finally bring home some bacon? Every time I get an interview the odds go way up as others fall by the wayside, and yet there are always a few alphasperm just ahead of me.

Today I had another interview with a nice, solid company. Looked boring as hell, really, but I kept reminding myself to keep my focus on what I want out of this, not on the pain it will cost me. Really, the people were very friendly and it wouldn't be all that bad, I'm sure. Good sign: within 3 hrs of leaving there, they called me back for a second interview next week.

Maybe this will be the one.

Wednesday, December 22

whaddaya mean, my syntax don' send ya?

Of course it's always been the dream that fame will bring adulation. How many times have you heard musicians say they started playing in a band because they perceived rock stars to be babe magnets? Not without justification, apparently.

And men with great minds do turn many women on, decrepit looks or lousy economic status notwithstanding. Brilliant writers definitely have the power to make smart women swoon.

But it would seem that the phenomenon doesn't swing both ways. In strange synchronicity, two women writers have this week published rueful pieces on the subject. As Curtis Sittenfeld (female, despite the name) says in the NYT article You Can't Get a Man With a Pen, "writing a book as a means of finding either love or sex seems to me about as efficient as the also-popular idea of writing a book to get rich." (Thanks to Allison for the link.) Sittenfeld laments that women authors have to be either gorgeous or sex writers to attract groupies, but all I can think of is: groupies are girls; men are called stalkers. Which she certainly reminds us of by bringing up the crazed Charlie Kaufman character, the "real" screenwriter played by Nicolas Cage in Adaptation (not "The Orchid Thief," as she says, which is the book on which the movie was based).

Pretty much the same point is made by Sarah, half defiant, half doleful in her bitingly clever version of "You Can't Get a Man With a Gun," a tune by Irving Berlin not familiar to me. She brings the dilemma home with a big finish: "A man won't propose on the merits of your prose/And you won't get a spouse or a house with your mouse/Oh, you can't get a man with a blog." The brains vs. romance situation is, I suppose, especially tough for this very smart journalist who also happens to be religious and probably would make a lie of any of your preconceptions of what that means. Or so I imagine from following her life-on-blog.

Funny, I'm pretty sure my mother made the same point decades ago when I asked her, with a 15-year-old's despair, "What do boys want?"

Her answer, I have suspiciously decided in retrospect over the years, came out awfully quick, as if she'd long memorized it herself. In that pre-feminist era, it resonated deeply with a ring of Truth, and it has stayed with me forever. It's the mantra I repeated to myself endlessly, for all the good it's done me: "pretty, sweet, smart -- in that order."

hey, I love my cat too, but ...

I still remember (ok, I've got pictures) when my now 14-year-old cat looked resentfully at my smaller-than-him new baby daughter, who was blissfully unaware of the sibling rivalry. She's two years younger than him, and I never let her forget that he's part of the family too. Although she's stopped asking me if we can replace him with a dog, so I guess he's finally grown on her.

Much to my annoyance, this typically fussy feline sleeps between my knees, because I don't want him to suffer being shut up alone in a cold room all night. (I used to lock him in the bathroom with the litter and his food, to avoid the tussles with him in bed. But I've gone soft.)

We felt sufficiently conjoined to this lovable Siamese sabra, that we paid the airlines something like $300 each way to take him with us to Toronto and back to Israel two years later.

And yet, I'm not a cat person any more than I'm a kid person. I have no interest in snapshots of other people's kids, and wouldn't want "the world" (AS IF my readership were so impressive) gawking at pictures of my luscious pre-teen. But the thought of posting pictures of Sunny the Cat on my blog strikes me as banal in the extreme. Naturally, I have a few pictures of him, which I shoot when his adorableness impresses me, but they rarely capture his edible cuteness, and are unremarkable. Like pictures of spectacular scenery, unless you're Ansel Adams, the interest is often lost in the translation from the naked eye.

So it did surprise me to read that Allison wonders "why, in the big-time blogging circles, it's considered respectable and serious to post daily photos and obsessive descriptions of one's CAT, [but if you do the same regarding your child, you get typed as a girly-blog]." Eh?Respectable and serious? Sez who? I get a serious YAWN when I see cat-posting.

However, I did run into an exception the other day, noteworthy for its gross-out factor fascination. You'll appreciate my meaning if you follow the link. (Thanks to Meryl for that zen moment.)

Tuesday, December 21

rant against western medicine

And in the category of Advantages of Not Having a Real Job, I've just discovered been introduced to another great writer whose blog I've been gobbling all morning. And he's Canadian! Poor lad, suffering the bitter cold I've escaped, but making good use of his time with brilliant blogging. In his post What Wellness Really Means he encapsulates with genius the thing that has always bothered me most about the medical establishment:

The problem with mainstream medicine is that when you medicate the body to deal with the symptom, the body figures it doesn't need to deal with the cause. You might get rid of symptoms of cancer by radiating cell-killing waves at the body, but you've waged war with the entire body. You still haven't stopped the cause of disease.

Which is not, of course, to say that mainstream medical intervention isn't what you want in certain circumstances -- we all do, when we're desperate -- but the problem is our lifetime's worth of the mainstream medical approach which has tended to undermine the immune system, the body's natural forces to heal itself, since infancy. Instead of immune-system building with an organic (or at least healthy-choice) diet, exercise, vitamin therapy, or whatever you believe works for you, we have a powerful medical establishment that rules society via government subsidies and Big Pharma -- since alternative approaches are never subsidized and always expensive. Antibiotics, rather than echinacea or vitamin C, are prescribed willy-nilly in the face of a simple viral infection; Tums, rather than digestive enzymes, are guzzled for heartburn; painkillers rather than chiropractors for backaches; and it goes on. You can provide your own examples of killing symptoms rather than dealing with sources. And it continues to infuriate me that western society funds that which weakens us, rather than that which strengthens us. But the continued weakening of the tobacco lobby is at least an optimistic sign.

Speaking of good old-fashioned alternative therapy, I made a great big pot of chicken soup yesterday along with my own favorite comfort food, kneidelach (matza balls for the yiddishly-challenged). And although it may not be the most heart-healthy recipe, I love that I don't need to throw away the shmaltz (chicken fat). These go so well with chicken soup, and they take only 10 minutes to prepare and throw in the boiling water, so go ahead, make like a doctor and treat yourself.

And don't forget to take your echinacea and vitamin C at the very first signs of a cold -- once the cold sets in it won't help much -- nothing beats it!!

incredibly easy and delicious kneidelach recipe
2 beaten eggs
3 Tablespoons chicken fat (or oil)
1/2 Cup warm chicken soup (or water)
3/4 Teaspoon salt
3/4 Cup matza meal (this also works with ordinary bread or cracker crumbs if you can't find matza meal)

Mix the ingredients together, and allow mixture to cool in the freezer for a few minutes so it won't be runny. Meanwhile, get a pot of water boiling. With wet hands (so batter won't stick), make small balls (they expand while cooking) and drop them into strongly boiling water. (If water isn't boiling, balls may disintegrate.) Let them cook for about 20 minutes in simmering water, then remove with slotted spoon and straight into your soup bowl.

Et voila! Instant self-mothering!

Saturday, December 18

in which we return to square one

After nearly a month of living hopefully with the possibility of a real job -- three seemed to be in the offing at one point , not to mention my Plan B, which has not yet worked out -- I have returned to barking up every tree in the vicinity.

That means phoning anyone I hadn't heard back from, just to make sure they're sure they don't want me. Like the company so close to home, where I thought I was so incredibly hot at the interview and then never got called again (though I called them and was told they were still interviewing)? Turns out now, they're not so sure they have enough work to hire another employee, so they're making do with a temporary solution. This not hiring anyone after yanking a lot of people's chains with a series of interviews happens fairly regularly, unfortunately. I told them I wouldn't mind if they'd use me as their temporary solution while they're deciding what to do permanently.

Scanning the job postings in various Israeli listings, it appears to me that things are slow again. Maybe it's the season, an end-of-year wait-and-see atmosphere. Who knows. It's a numbers game, as they say. I've had interviews at 5 big-to-medium companies. How many interviews do you have to get, statistically, before you score? Maybe the odds are 10:1; maybe 20:1; I dunno. Does anybody know this? I could talk to a friendly HR person ... if I could find one. Might make a good article.

Meanwhile, I wrote an article on my job-hunting experience, from a personal, sort of wise-ass point of view -- comparing job-hunting to dating (though my memories of that are mostly dim and repressed) -- and I'm trying to flog it now. I'll let you know if I have any luck. I'm afraid it's either not funny enough or not serious enough. Maybe that in-between tone of lazy-smartass-who-isn't-as-witty-as-she-thinks doesn't go over too well. If I can't sell it, I suppose I'll have to rewrite it after digging up some serious stats and quotes from heavy-hitters.

I can't complain I'm too busy.

Wednesday, December 15

crisis day

Last day of Hanukah holiday, and I celebrated by sleeping in again. Have been enjoying decadence of going to bed after 1am every nite and rising between 10 and 11am. Tomorrow we're back to 7am agony: drag out of bed, wake kid, make coffee, throw together her breakfast, prepare her lunch bag. Hurry her along with hair, teeth, schoolbag, etc. etc. and push her (plus mr. s, the driver) out the door by 7:55 so they will get to school by 8:15 (morning traffic through to the other side of the burb's a bitch). Last night I had a bad dream that I was pregnant with another kid; interesting that it was the thought of the night-feedings that horrified me the most.

So I got up this morning, and the first words out of mr. s (who chooses to wait for me to run the espresso machine, therefore had already been up for 2 hours with no coffee) were not "good morning," but "That's what makes me mad," referring to my sleep-in, which can happen only on holidays, of course. The point, clearly, was that I should have been up at dawn and on the street with a sign on me saying, "Hire me." Now THAT would have been a useful way to spend the past 2 hours.

Apparently oblivious to my efforts of the past two months, he proceeded to go into his standard tirade about my irresponsible attitude to our economic situation, claiming I contribute nothing (since it's not money) and all the weight is on his shoulders. On and on and on. I do not respond well to this approach.

What makes me furious when he does this, instead of sympathetic to his obvious stress, is that he is, in effect, blind to everything I've endured (in an attempt to find work) seemingly because I don't appear to be upset about the situation. If I were wailing, he would be comforting me, but because I am calmly going about my day, he's incensed. He even said, "I know this will irritate you, but you really should have stayed with [royal jelly witch]."

"Oh," I answered, "you mean the one I'm still having nightmares about? Are you nuts?"

It's true. I still get the heeby-jeebies when I think of being in the same room with her. That week was the longest month of my life. I still feel like she's sticking pins in a voodoo doll of me.

So the day went on like that, mostly with me screaming at him to leave me alone, and wishing to hell I could divorce him. After a while, he could see that his day wasn't going to be too hot either if he didn't back off, so he tried to placate me, but I wasn't giving a millimeter. He was out in the cold till the evening, when I went grocery shopping and spent a bundle knowing he wouldn't say a word.

Things are calmer now.

There are those of you reading who may think I'm pretty childish to plod along while things are quiet, only to dream of divorce when things are not going my way; and perhaps others who think I should just dump the jerk already. Both views are wrong, I think, in their oversimplification. As much as we might wish to make a great and mature partnership in marriage, probably the majority of us don't succeed in that, not without decades of friction, certainly, sometimes never. When they say marriage is hard work, they mean it's a whole lotta "suckin' it up." Biting the bullet. Getting squeezed between a rock and a hard place. Who isn't going to feel immature a lot of the time? The demands of marriage push every self-centered button you've ever seen -- and parenthood finds a whole new set you didn't ever want to acknowledge.

I really hate it a lot of the time. But, like Israel in the summer vs. Toronto in the winter, the alternative is no picnic either.

Monday, December 13

jonesin' for drama

hmph. Now that I've thrown in the towel on the job-hunt, I'm wondering where I'm going to scare up some drama. No doubt this is just a brief intermission, but it feels like hibernation.

I've noticed I keep dreaming of the wicked witch of royal jelly. Why the blazes is she constantly in my dreams? Something unresolved there? Bugger.

I'm resigned to returning to the life of an itinerant English teacher, and I shall do my best to extract whatever drama may be found among the various parts of speech. At the moment, I'm waiting (again, but not fruitlessly, I trust) for that boss to get back to me with an assignment, or several. We do need to get the cash flowing, people. Retail therapy is all well and good, but it must be subsidized somehow.

It's Hanukah break, and the kid is off school for a week. Since she's still somewhat challenged socially (I do hope it's not genetic), she and I are spending quite a bit of time together. Yesterday it was baking chocolate chip cookies; today it was a walk into town (how ridiculous that this is the first time we've ever done that, car-addicted suburbanites that we are -- it's barely a half-hour walk) to hang out on "main street" and drop a little cash. This evening we played Scrabble, which she's damn good at, and even whomped my ass once, even though her vocabulary is a small fraction of mine. What she lacks in word-power she makes up for in strategy.

All this is helping to keep me off my blog-addiction, though I did sneak a peek at a few new ones while checking out the blog award nomination lists. A new favorite is Electric Venom. Now there's a woman who knows how to exploit a life drama.

Saturday, December 11

blogger on hiatus

Not getting hired for a stupid-but-well-paying full-time job is like a Trojan horse ... but inside out, if you get my meaning.

The "rejection" has been a wakeup call that I'm very happy about, now that I've come to my senses, because what I really need to concentrate on is writing. How easy it is to get sidetracked. Like, with reading other people's blogs.

I was just starting to appreciate the lack of interesting tv when I realized I'd replaced my drug-of-choice with blog-surfing anyway. Already a long-term, hardened web addict, I now acknowledge blog-surfing as my new crack.

I need to get this thing under control.

Wednesday, December 8

mourning has broken

Okay, I'm over company no. 1.

It was a relatively short grieving period, aided immensely by the support of:

a) Mr. Squarepeg, who has been very sympathetic and not at all self-involved (which has been a tiny problem in the past) upon hearing the disappointing news. He does recognize that I've done my utmost up to this point AND that I'm willing to go back to teaching English (which bores me stiff) if nothing else happens this week.

b) My faithful readers who expressed outrage on my behalf, both on- and offline. I value quality over quantity, and always have; thank you for being there!

c) My new Anonymous reader who may have had no idea of the uplifting power of her(?) gift of kindness in commenting so generously on this particular day. That has been a surprising lesson, too, in the value of anonymous giving. Thank you for de-lurking today! (p.s. Mr. S. is really not as mean as I tend to portray him; it's just the immaturity gene combined with the terror of inherited poverty consciousness.)

and last, but not least:
d) my philosophy of life, which tells me that there is reason and purpose, in the bigger picture, behind all things. And I have a sneaking suspicion I know what that is in this case. Bottom line is that I need to write, and the older I get, the less Life is going to put up with my excuses for not doing it. Biggest possible excuse, for me, is The Full-Time Job. Even company no. 2, from what I've heard, would afford me all kinds of time to write on the side, but no. 1 definitely would have been REAL full-time, plus commute. While both of those jobs would just be for money (and a bit of a social life), teaching would give me something even more valuable: TIME. And if no. 2 doesn't work out either, I'm already sort of resigned to teaching again, since I can make enough money part-time at that and maintain a relatively unharried lifestyle.

Yesterday afternoon, I got through to the HR office of company no. 2 and asked what the status was. The one HR woman said she'd passed the file back to the other HR woman, who was responsible for contact with the manager, and she left a message to call me back, but nothing yet. I think I need to find out today what's what, so that I can get on with my life.

Yeah, I'm kind of fed up. But in a philosophical sort of way.

UPDATE --> 11:45 a.m. Company no. 2 just called.

Same old bullshit: "Just wanted to update you, no decisions have been made, we're still interviewing, it might take a few more days, probably know by next week..."

WTF!! After taking 5 hours of my time, including a 2-hr security interview??!!!!!
Hellooooooo -- seen this movie already, thank you very much!

"Okay, I also need to update you, that another company is waiting for an answer and if I don't hear from you by tomorrow, I'll assume you're not interested and I'll have to go in another direction."

"Well, naturally, if you've received another offer, you obviously need to take it."

Yes, OBVIOUSLY. Twit. OBVIOUSLY, you're just stringing me along like the last 5 companies while you look for someone else. OBVIOUSLY, I need to move on.

Assuming that if they really are at all interested, they'll call me by today and not wait until tomorrow, I'm waiting until this evening to make the call to the owner of the English school.

That phone call really pissed me off.

Tuesday, December 7

jury's back

It's d-day+2 and by 2pm I just couldn't wait any longer for the call. With my pulse pounding at 138 (yes, I checked), I phoned HR woman at company no. 1.

I'm not gonna sugar-coat it for ya. They gave the job to someone else.

And that's all she wrote.

Monday, December 6

maybe they're just not that into me

Rebecca Traister has written another great article for Salon exploring the psyche of the bestseller "He's Just Not That Into You," which asks women to take a tough look at why they're not getting the attention they think they deserve from the men whose attention they want. She tries really hard to look squarely at the reality, but in the end we find her still buying into the fairy tale "Sex and the City" ending where Big appears out of left field and sweeps Carrie off her feet.

How easy it is to view other people's myopia with 20:20 vision.

The parallels between job-hunting and man-hunting are there in my face all the time. The companies you want to work for are like the men you want to be with.

First interviews can be a lot like first dates. You think you killed, and then they never call again. But you convince yourself that they must have lost your phone number and are desperate to contact you, so you call them and say, "What's up?" And they say, "Not much. We really like you, but we're busy this week. We'll be in touch."

And that's the last you hear.

Or you get that second date -- I mean interview -- and you really put out this time. You do their tests, their sample assignments, their psychological and security clearances. And then they keep you dangling for a few weeks. A phone call or an email every few days, keeping your hope alive so that you don't move on and take that other job. The situation saps your energy so much that you don't even send out signals -- er, resumes -- to anyone else.

And still, you ask yourself: Should I call them? Maybe they will suddenly realize that I am The One. Maybe they're on the fence, and this phone call will make all the difference.

NO! Face it, they're just not that into you! If they were, they would have called within 24 hours of that first interview, or immediately after receiving that incredible piece of work you did for them. If they lost your resume, they would have found your phone number even if your name were Smith and they needed a team of assistants to comb through the phone directory.

Sadly, the indifference to timely telephone contact with a candidate is a huge indicator of [lack of] interest in hiring them.

As with dating.

You can be aggressive, you can take the initiative, but it's not likely to pay off any more than a barrage of phone calls will woo a prospective employer. If they're not into you, in the end you'll be lucky if you get a rejection letter; more often than not, you just never hear from them again.

The question starts as a whisper, but soon becomes a banging nag: Is it time to move on?

Sunday, December 5



The whole nightmarish scenario begins with the kid scratching her head over and over, compulsively, like a dog with fleas.

Actually, for all I know, a human with lice is exactly like a dog with fleas.

What's itching is a teeny-tiny crawly louse biting into the scalp. I could do some quick research to see if that's accurate, but if you really care you can do it yourself. For all intents and purposes, this is close enough. By the time you realize your kid is scratching way too often, she's infested. No, not a pretty word, I grant you.

You know she's infested big time when you peer closely at the hair near the hairline around her ears and nape and you see lots of teeny-tiny white bubbles that look like hair follicles attached securely to lots of the hairs. Too many to count.

Those are the nits -- the lice eggs -- and they're stuck like glue until they hatch. You need to pick them out -- yes YOU, because you're the mother -- one by one, and destroy them before they become mature blood-sucking parasites. But first you must kill THEIR mothers.

It's a rotten job, so rotten that one cruel mother in an Israeli movie I saw actually shaved her daughter's head rather than going through the aggravation. Very traumatic.

So you go to the drugstore and stand in line to speak to a pharmacist because clearly lice-killer lotion is far too dangerous and complicated to be available on open shelves. Likewise the special comb for removal of dead lice.

WHY must we stand in the pharmacy line with all the flu-sufferers and antibiotic-buyers for LICE SHAMPOO AND COMBS?
[My own personal current rant on power-tripping "pharmaceutical" practices.]

So then you go home and pour the vile, noxious fluid over your baby's head, trying not to splash it in her eyes and blind her. ["Omigod! Splash your eyes! Splash your eyes! It's dripping down!"] Then you put her long hair up in a clip and make her wait with the windows open for 10 minutes because the smell feels so poisonous. You then send her to the shower to do a big shampoo, and when she comes out, she must sit in front of you with wet hair, while you comb, comb, comb out the lice corpses (you don't really see them, but it's a gross thought) with the teeny-tiny dense-toothed comb.

And then the nit-picking begins. The comb is supposed to comb out eggs, but it doesn't. You have to go through small section by small section peering very closely at the hair, and the older your eyes are the tougher this job gets. I need to put my face right next to her scalp to see the tiny nits. You have to locate each and every one, get ahold of it with two fingers, and pull it along the hair until it comes off; you can't just pick it straight off, because it's actually hugging the hair shaft. It requires a good light, and a kid with more patience than mine, but she sits in front of the tv, and suffers less than I do.

After an hour of this activity, my back is aching from the weird angle and we're both in a pretty foul mood. But for a few days she stops scratching! Don't forget to change all the bed sheets and wash them in very hot water.

Then you do it again 10 days later, to catch the ones you missed that have now hatched.

Head-shaving starts to look like a very good idea.

we begin the week with a hysterical interlude

This just in: 9:05 a.m., phone rings. It's the nice HR woman from company no. 1.

[As if I'd forgotten all about her]: "How are you?"

"I've been trying to reach [your reference} and left him a voice mail last week but he hasn't gotten back to me, and he's not answering now either. Have you got his cell phone number?"

"Um, no, he never gave me one."


"I'll try to find his phone number at home, and I'll get back to you."

Called information, got the number easily, thank god, his wife answered. He was still home, "confirming" my suspicion that he's been home ill, and that's why I've heard NOTHING. Why else would this compulsively punctual person still be at home at 9:05???

"How are you? Is everything okay?"

"Yes, I'm fine."

"Oh, good, I was a bit worried."


"What? Why?"

"Because I was waiting to hear back from these companies, and I knew you would email me if they called you and I heard nothing, and then I got a call this morning from one of them who said she's 'been trying to reach you --"

[A bit huffily]: "I got ONE message, late Thursday, and didn't have time to return the call."

"Oh, oh, oh, it's just me, I'm beside myself waiting to hear from these people and it's just dragging on so long, so sorry, so sorry, not you at all, no pressure whatsoever, but here's her cell phone number, whenever it's convenient. Have a lovely day!"

"I'll call her sometime this morning."

"Oh great, thank you so much."

God, how desperate did THAT sound?
So much for the dim hope of keeping this process dignified.

Saturday, December 4

in which I act like there's no tomorrow

aaaaaahhhhhh ... paradise is sitting on my balcony, sipping my cappuccino on a Saturday morning with the precious winter rays warming my sun-deprived self, a soft if insistent breeze trying (but not succeeding) to convince me that I should put on a sweater or go back inside.

I'm baking, and I'm content. The neighbors are still in bed, or they don't know how warm it is, so they're not out making noise yet. The heaven of a quiet shabbat morning. My feet up, I luxuriate in my weekend reading and appreciate my little oasis. Tomorrow is d-day? Not on this planet.

We spent the glorious afternoon taking my father-in-law for a walk on the tayelet (Tel Aviv's wonderful brick-paved seafront) with the rest of the world, and lunch at a mediocre beachfront restaurant. Fabulous day. Makes up for absolutely everything, dahling. Even those paunchy old guys in their teeny-tiny shimmering speedos. (Yes, apparently some people even thought it was warm enough for swimming.)

My father-in-law is 74 and still working at his small blue-collar business in south Tel Aviv because it's pretty much a cash cow but wouldn't be worth anything if he wanted to sell it. He's got prostate problems and isn't particularly enamored with life anymore, but he keeps putting one foot in front of the other and soldiers on. One of his few pleasures seems to be providing us with food, both produce and deli dishes that he buys, and typical Polish food he likes to cook -- gefilte fish, cholent, meat balls, kugel. It's hard to refuse it, and saves me lots of shopping and cooking. At the moment, I'm overloaded with apples and other fruit, so I made a huge fruit salad, and then threw together an apple pie using some store-bought frozen pie crust I've had in the freezer for a couple of months.

Damn, that crust is good. I just ate a quarter of a pie.

Friday, December 3

waiting to exhale

Just trying to hold it together here. It's the weekend again, and I still don't know anything about the job situation.

It's been an exhausting week, with a sick kid who was home from school 1-1/2 days and who I worried had sinusitis, but happily the forces of mucous are finally receding in the face of my deadly homeopathic, naturopathic, and just plain medical arsenal. The pinkish hue has returned to my baby's delicious cheeks.

And on Wednesday I had to go back to Tel Aviv, this time by highly efficient train for the first time! 14 minutes from Herzliya to middle of big city --wow!

Unfortunately, once I got there, efficiency dropped appreciably. It was a half-hour walk to the office (10 min. just crossing at the lights as a pedestrian to the other side of the major intersection!). I could have taken a bus, but I had lots of time to kill and it was a beautiful warm day. (Which it still is -- we had a stormy 10 days or so, and now it's all-middle-eastern climate, all the time).

When I got there, I waited 15 min. for the first interview, with a younger manager. It took 45 intense minutes, but went well, I thought. Intense because of his big blue eyes and well-sculpted bod! Whew! And then I had to undergo a "security interview" with a stocky, bald security officer straight out of Central Casting. Reminded me of Michael Chiklis as "the Commish" -- but a little older. He was affable enough but I had to relive my whole life over the next hour and 40 minutes, and that was just a little painful. Painfully boring! When I said I could only give him two names for references, he wanted me to take a polygraph test on top of it all! That's where I drew the line. Uh-uh. No way. My rights! My privacy! The personal violation!

And all those little white lies I told him? Not gonna pass a polygraph.

He gave me his card (just like tv detectives at the end of a witness interview) and told me to call him if I can think of any more reference names. I decided they can kiss my a** -- if they don't know they want me after all they've put me through already, then I'd rather teach English, frankly. I'm so sick of this power trip potential employers are on.

I was wrung out by the time I left there, and still haven't heard from them, nor has my top reference informed me, still, that anyone has contacted him. So it's the weekend again, and I must try to hold it together until Sunday. I'm convinced that if I don't hear from either of those companies by then, I'm screwed.

Meanwhile, Mr. S. is more optimistic than I am, and has sweetly invited me out for a nice Friday brunch. Which helps.