Category Archives: Think About It

A Pool Is Not A Library

Today, I heard 6 brilliant words come out of 1 not-so-brilliant woman’s mouth:

“A pool is not a library.”

Wow. Such brilliance. So astute. Like an answer to a really sneaky SAT analogy question.

All I can say is that if your ability to respond to a noise complaint boils down to an obvious premise that actually has no bearing on a resolution to the matter at hand, then shove that cigarette down your hoarse throat and deal with the problem instead of perpetuating it. I say you. But not you. Her. That one brilliant woman with pearls of not-such-brilliance sullied so by ignorance, temerity, and deeply ingrained self-interest. She from whom I can see the sparks of a congenial and benevolent relationship.

BACKGROUND: We live on a kibbutz. A kibbutz is a friendly place to live. While not communal in practice (as most kibbutzim [plural of kibbutz] have become), the kibbutz is basically a private community with a general sense of peace of quiet – with lots of sidewalks, trees, grassy fields, kids playing in the streets, a corner store, lots of dogs, and unlimited water provisions. Oh yeah, and a pool. The kibbutz pool. That enshrined kibbutz entity that puts any kibbutz one league ahead of anywhere else you’d consider taking up residence. Cool. Refreshing. Relaxing.

And a giant pain in my butt. You see, the pool in our kibbutz is currently managed by a duo of lowlifes – characterized by cheap marketing tactics, a passion for obnoxious (and really bad) Middle Eastern music (with heavy bass), and an overall disregard for any human beings other than the ones that get to feed off the pathetic few pennies that grace their barely surviving credit-free bank accounts. I.e. Them, and them alone. They like to play music at the pool, which is all good and well, because, as one of them so kindly pointed out to me, a pool is not a nursing home. Really? Because I thought that water was actually an emergency water supply for the rapidly aging kibbutz members. Another brilliant n0n-analogy. These are the kind answers you receive if your house/apartments faces the pool 100 meters away and the bass is so heavy that it’s drilling a hole through your cranium while serving as an unreliable artificial pacemaker. Or the whiny voices of untalented Middle Eastern singers are shattering the glass of the windows you’ve sealed so tightly that you may suffocate at any moment.

So you decide to take it to the next level. Talk with the kibbutz manager. (I will spare you of the other astounding conversations I’ve shared with kibbutz management et al.)  It seems like a sound idea. Air your concerns with someone in a superior position. She’s about to start a meeting. If “about to” means “we’re sitting around the table laughing waiting for half the participants to arrive and I’m twiddling a cigarette in my fingers because if I don’t smoke, I might just die right here.” Ironic. She grants me a moment of her time when I make it clear that I will not leave until I get it. Thanks. I explain as calmly as I can – without shedding a single emotionally drenched syllable – that this cannot go on. That as a resident-renter, I was asked to keep music down in my home to avoid disturbing the neighbors, and that as such something has gone terribly awry if I’m now complaining about the exact thing the kibbutz was so adamant to ensure I would avoid. I tell her that I work from home and that the noise is a terrible nuisance that prevents me from working in peace.

And that’s when it happens. That’s when she says it. Those 6 brilliant words that will forever live on in infamy as the phrase that proved to me once and for all that she’s probably no better (guilty until proven innocent) than the two good-for-nothings at the pool.

“A pool is not a library.”

Well, duh. Last I checked, books are not waterproof. Oh, if your point is that I should put up with this crap because this  pool that is in my backyard is not a library and can therefore play as much music as it wants whenever it wants (except for between the hours of 2 and 4), then maybe I’ll bring some books and shelves. And a librarian. (I can think of one.) Then, the pool WILL be a library. How cool is that?? And then your logic is broken. Oh, is that not what you meant? Reluctantly, I stoop to her level with an argument for which I can only thank Introduction to Deductive Logic. An analogy so correct that it left her speechless. If but for a moment. An argument so powerful that it could not be refuted. I raised my head up high, looked her in the eye, and stated:

“A house is a house.”

For now, I will sit in patience, if also in agony, waiting to see if she keeps her word that she’ll “take care of it tomorrow”.

Meanwhile, I’m thinking of finding out which house is her’s and buying a blow up pool…



p.s. I know this post sounds embittered, and while that does not represent the whole of me, at the moment, I am.


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Finding Common Ground

I never liked Monopoly as a kid. My impatient little self couldn’t be trifled with a never-ending game that teetered between jail time and free cash. (The only thing I liked was the thimble – thanks to Peter Pan perhaps?) But as I grew older, I learned to appreciate the Parker brother’s commercialization of a game that, quite ironically, was created to illustrate the negative aspects of monopolies, which concentrate wealth in the hands of the few. While it was created as a tool to defenestrate monopolizing landlords, figuratively speaking, of course, Monopoly the board game seems to have taken on another role entirely: by encouraging players to accrue assets, Monopoly seems to to teach people how to handle their finances or, more tantalizingly (to most?), how to get rich. Considering the international popularity of the game (according to Yehuda, there are 1911 official and unofficial Monopolies), I find it safe to assume that the appeal of this game, beyond its personalization, is the one common denominator that binds all people of all races of all religions and of all denominations together: Money. By the same token, Monopoly hones in on one more binding aspect of the human race: Jail. It’s less glorious, but it’s a fact. About 10 million people are imprisoned worldwide, not counting totalitarian regimes and the like. And the rest of use, I’m sure, prefer to avoid it.

And now we come to the point of today’s post. How do we find common ground in a world so diverse and with such a monstrous population? How do we foster change when we’re really so different? We eat different foods, we sleep at different hours, we think different thoughts, we speak different languages, we believe in different gods, we play different games, we use different currencies. You get the point. And that’s where the Parkers hit the nail on the head. Jail. It’s the one place neither you nor I want to find ourselves in, but it’s fact and some people will end up there and other others won’t. Which is why we all vie for the Get-Out-Of-Jail card. And Money. It’s the one thing that, no matter who we are or what our fight is, we can all agree on. Money satisfies wants and needs. It is a derivative of our survival instinct. In some places, money means life. In other places, money means more Starbucks – a survival of sorts. Anyhow, you want money, I need money. You need money, I want money. No argument there. If it was only as easy as passing Go.

Okay. So here’s the bottom line (all puns intended): the common denominator of all people around the globe is to:

  1. Accumulate Money
  2. Avoid Jail

Now, if we want to create change for the better, to make the world a better place, we need to appeal to these effectively primal impulses. For better or for worse, it seems to me that the only way to make waves is through monetary and legal coercion. Because that’s the only thing we can agree on. Don’t you agree?

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Doing It All & Getting It All Done

I want to do it all.

Really. Everything. I’ve got a list of things I want to accomplish from here to the moon. My house is littered with new projects that find their way to vacant tabletops. My computer is on overload from new business ideas. My shelves are packed with books on random skills and other topics of personal interest that I want to become more well-versed in. My mind is floating in a sea of creativity and ambition. I really and truly want to do it all.

By the same token, and perhaps more importantly, I want to get it all done. Everything I want to do, I also want to complete. To check off accomplishments on that ever-growing list.

But that list only continues to grow (unless the moon is just getting closer…), while the check marks become fewer and farther between. And then there’ s the matter of prioritizing. I want to do everything, but which one should I do first?!??!?

Indeed, today’s post encapsulates all of the challenges of doing it all and getting it all done at the same time. Let’s contextualize: It’s been nine days since my previous post (which, incidentally, was about starting the year off on the right foot). What’s taken so long is a melange of indecision and procrastination: I was fickle about which topic I would write about, so I kept stalling the writing process. I devised some pretty trite excuses for the delay, most notably of which is the fact that I had more important things to do, that I had to focus on my top priorities. Next thing you know, 2011 is well underway and I’m finally picking up the proverbial pen. But not without a host of consequences: those top priorities are in dire need of my utmost attention and I’m now casting them aside (temporarily) as I compose an entry that’s fundamentally about casting things aside (temporarily). Not only that, but those same top priorities, which I considered such top priorities over the last nine days, were themselves cast to the back-burner in favor of other tasks on the list.

Basically, here I am procrastinating procrastination. Interesting.

So how can I not only do it all, but also get it all done?

  1. For starters, I am an advocate of lists. Umm… check. This should not be just a laundry list, but rather a list of goals. If you want to learn to play the piano, set a target: Is it to become the next Bach or, perhaps more realistically, to learn to play the Minuet in G major?
  2. Schedules are key. Let’s start with two. One is a general schedule – a calendar, I suppose – for mapping out your priorities (i.e. due dates, etc.). The other is a specific schedule – daily, weekly, take your pick – that transforms those top priorities, as well as those not-so-top priorities into tangible action items. The latter is a list that should scream check marks!
  3. My mom always says: “A place for everything and everything in its place.” Read: keep your stuff in order and put things away when your done. It keeps your mental space just as clutter-free as physical space. (Also, if “organize room” was on your list, well, now it’s not.)
  4. Finally, periodically review your lists, schedules, and progress. Everything is flexible, so rewrite your lists as you see fit and alter those schedules if priorities shift.

My take-home message is this: I can do it all AND I can get it all done. But it won’t happen overnight. Things take time, but as long as I map out my objectives, I will reach my goals.

And so will you. Give it a shot.

What about you? How do you do it all and get it all done?

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First Things Last or Last Things First

We’re in the 11th hour. Everyone’s hurrying to formulate those last minute New Year’s resolutions: “Lose 10 pounds”…”Learn to cook”…”Save money”…”Make money”…”Learn a new hobby”…”Keep this year’s New Year’s resolutions.”

Enough’s been said about trite and, quite frankly, pointless New Year’s resolutions. Personally, every day I seek to learn new things. I don’t consider that a resolution, and I don’t really intend to contrive any. Nonetheless, I do believe in starting off the New Year on the right foot. But rather than setting out with self-destructing promises, I prefer to end off the Gregorian year with accomplishments and achievements: Rather than trying to make amends for a miserable failure of a year – which is what the cliché resolution seems to imply, I prefer to perpetuate the positive aspects of 2010 and bring them along into 2011.

December 31, 2010
Maya’s list of firsts and other encouraging successes

  1. woke up at 6:45 → SUCCESS
  2. did not buy sweet coffee frap (Ice Kafe) → SUCCESS
  3. baited a brobdingnagian fly in my tea → FIRST
  4. navigated around the center of tel aviv without the help of a gps → FIRST
  5. spent less than 5 minutes in a grocery store → SUCCESS
  6. napped for 15 minutes (not 2 hours!) → FIRST (in recent past)
  7. cooked with sweet white wine → FIRST
  8. used baking soda to neutralize compost stench → FIRST
  9. cleaned floor with vinegar → FIRST
  10. scrubbed clean an oil-caked pan with baking soda → FIRST

Personal growth is contingent on recognizing our successes and failures, which are themselves contingent on doing firsts and aiming for continued successes. This exercise is something that should be done not just once a year, but everyday.

I would love to know: What’s on your list of December 31st FIRSTS?


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Of Hot Spots and Little Things

It’s the little things in life, or so they say. It’s probably because little things have huge impacts. Impacts on us, the people in our lives, people beyond our circles, the environment. Really, the universe itself.

So, in the spirit of huge impacts, I thought I’d share with you some of my little things:

  • A decadent piece of chocolate.
  • A warm embrace.
  • A subtle breeze.
  • A breath of fresh air.
  • A liberating sneeze.
  • A heartwarming chat.
  • A glance at the sky.
  • An encounter with a bug.
  • A sip of cool water.
  • A good back-scratch.
  • An unexpected recycling bin.
  • A contemplation on a single blade of grass swaying in the wind.
  • A good snuggle.
  • A hot spot on heated floors.

The list goes on and on. And I’m sure yours does to.

But this is a little post about little things.

So, tell me, what are some of your little things?

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