Sunday, 7 February 2010

344 days later..

Crazy the way that time flies. I find myself back to blogging after discovering a blog of an old friend that somewhat inspired me to get back on the train. My spare time seems to be quite limited these days, but I am hoping to make an attempt to get back into writing and take some time to release a bit of brain energy through the wobulous world wide web.
As a brief catch up, I am now back in the good 'ol USA. While my journey of living in Jerusalem was put to an end 8 months ago, my ability to escape "reality" and travel about the globe has continued. Upon my return to America, I somehow wound up in graduate school within a month, and began classes just weeks after. Thanks to the one above, who basically handed me this opportunity on a silver platter, I was admitted into the program with ease, and granted a Graduate Assistant position that enabled me to not only have a free ride of tuition, but also a (extraordinarily meager, but still existing) bi-weekly paycheck. The whole class and work thing has pretty much consumed my life- as those around me can attest to- however I did have the opportunity over my winter vacation to cross off a new location on my travel map- when I had the honor of spending almost a month in beautiful crazy South Africa.
This first post is going to be a short one, just a sampler to get back into the groove- but I am hoping to give a bit more attention to my blog these next few months, bring some new material to the screen, and express myself in a way that hopefully some people can enjoy. (Hopefully getting an idea of what I am up to- since I have come to the realization I am one of those people I formerly hated who just can't seem to keep good contact with those I often think about).

Peace and love, more to come on the journey to the southern hemisphere.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Tea parties with Salah

The mysterious ladder owner came back the very next day. He’s no longer mysterious, we are basically best friends. I walk in from work, and he’s kicking it with Gina, having tea and a cigarette. We learn his name is Salah, and after he fixes our circuits, we proceed to have him fix all kinds of things around our apartment, he rocks. After telling us his name, he proceeds to tell me he is Arab.. I gathered it from the name buddy.. I tried speaking with him a bit, he was so excited that he was rambling off a million words a minute.. he didn’t really get that I studied Arabic.. I wasn’t a fluent native.. but it was fun anyways. From that moment on, he would only speak to me in Arabic.. that was fun. As if I wasn’t struggling enough with the Hebrew electrical terms, a language which I have been surrounded by since age 5… he now assumed I fully understood his 1,000 word a minute Arabic, and terms like circuit breaker and sulfur content. Shuk life is still going swell. I cook a lot, its super easy and cheap- and convenient. Work is also still moving along, learning a lot I suppose… learning that I am not a fan of sitting in front of a computer all day, but learning a lot about world issues at the same time.
Gina and our friend Mera have been planning this almost month-long Euro-trip for mid March.. she leaves in about two weeks for London, and travels from there- A few days ago I decided that it might be fun to meet up with them for a leg of their trip and join in- so I found a super cheap ticket online (someone is on my side) and I will be meeting them up in Amsterdam in three weeks, taking a train to Paris, and doing France with them- and flying back as they continue on. I’m pretty excited, it was totally un-expected, so on one hand, its totally random, and I don’t even feel like I am going, but on the other hand, it came as such a surprise- its fun and something random to look forward to.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

The lightless midget.

I don’t recall if I wrote about it, but in my last apartment we had a few minor electrical issues. Starting off small with shorting of our circuit and having to switch the power back on a few times a week, to a few times a night quickly escalated to a small electrical fire in Marcy’s room, and then to the electrocution of me as our dude shemesh (water heater) blew and exploded in my face and proceeded to melt off the wall. .. Classic Israel. Our new place started off not too different with short circuiting from our first days there. We called our landlord and insisted they come do something, so here begins another Israeli adventure. Ricka, our new landlady informs me that she will let me know when the electrician can come. The day flies by, no call. At about 4:30 in the afternoon, I receive a call, “I hope you are home, my husband is on his way.” Well, lucky for her, I was home… not quite in the way I would like my landlord’s husband to show up on me, but home none-the-less. I scramble to get things OK for him, and within minutes, hes over. He comes in, plays with the switches, and proceeds to tell me that we need an electrician. Thanks guy, I didn’t try switching the circuit back on myself, I’m glad I waited all day for YOU to come tell me I am not an idiot, and we needed additional help. He informs me that he will call an electrician and he will be over shortly. After about 30 minutes (the sun is now down, its kind of cold, and definitely dark) I receive a call from the electrician. He obviously doesn’t know a word of English, and asks me to explain what happened (as if I could in English, let alone knowing words in Hebrew for circuit breakers, switches, wires, and electrical outlets, etc.) The guy finally shows up, there’s a knock at the door. I go to the door, and look out the gate (very movie-esque) look out, and don’t see anyone. I open the door, and there he is; our electrician, a midget!! He walks into our apartment, pitch black, and takes a chair, climbs up, and is still a solid foot or two away from our electrical box. He has no ladder, and no flashlight. Its night and he’s a midget electrician. Only in Israel. After having me walk from door to door in our area asking my neighbors for a ladder and having no luck, the ‘lil guy paces around until he finally calls someone else, and tells me someone else will be there within an hour and a half. Cool. Luckily Goldberg was over and babysat me while all these creepy men were in and out of the apartment at night, I ran downstairs to the shuk and picked up some fresh coals and tobacco and candles to keep us occupied in the dark. The next guy shows up and is taller. He still has no ladder or light. I don’t know about anyone else, but I think those might be two basic things every electrician should have, especially at night. If I am calling because I have no power… and its night… you might want a light of some kind. So this taller guy climbs up on the chair- able to reach the box.. And whips out his cellphone for light as he searches through wires and bags of things.. Efficient. He replaces a circuit and peaces. Within ten minutes, the power is blown again. Apparently, we are really spoiled at home. Imagine your landlord in the states telling you its your fault that your power keeps blowing, obviously you can't have the heat and the laundry going simultaneously.. idiot. So, we are back at stage one. Yesterday another guy came over (with a ladder! –things are starting to shape up) and he said he would split our circuit into two to decrease the power on our one circuit. He comes into the apartment, drills all kinds of crazy holes, wires all over, plaster still covers our floors in all the rooms, and he peaces out. His ladder is still there, there is plaster all over, and a huge hole in my beautiful wall. Israelis are nuts. I assume he’ll be back soon for his ladder.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009


So, two weeks down, and I live IN the shuk. Every morning when I wake up, I rise to the sound of men screaming and crazy trucks beeping as they back out of the market where they just unloaded pounds of fresh veggies, fruits, fish, and halves of cows (mmm). [Note: Weaving in and out of truckbeds filled with hanging full cows really gets your day going quickly at 8 in the morning] Every time I open my door, I get a new whiff of something, and it’s usually something delicious. Shuk life thus far is pretty exciting. Nachlaot (the name of the neighborhood) is known for being home to all sorts of crazy people. My neighbors are all silly crazy Israelis, an older woman I made pals with who I cross paths with often in the stairway, some crazy guys who came knocking on our kitchen window the SECOND shabbos was out begging my friend for cigarettes, and cat ladies- who create “cat communities” and feed and set up mini beds outside for all of the stray cats in my hood. Nachlaot is the capital of crazies on Jerusalem if you ask me.. so I suppose its only right that I get some time living here.
The move went pretty well, no complaints. We rented a car (a sweet florescent green little Israeli style auto) and it took us about 4 trips back and forth to get all of our stuff over to the new place. Driving around Jerusalem was pretty exciting (and scary I suppose), but mostly quality adventure time. We had a few mess ups, once when we blocked in a bunch of people in our new lot, and then couldn’t start the car because you have to punch in some code and then turn the key and I messed it all up and the car had to wait 10-20 minutes to “re-set” (seems kind of ridiculous to me) --we had three cars all screaming and honking until one guy came to “help” by putting us in neutral and moving our car out of the way so he could get by. Classic move number two might have been when we tied my mattress down to the roof of the car and then realized we forgot to open the doors before tying it, and had to climb through the windows to get into the car.
Overall however, the move was good, Gina and I love our new place, and it really couldn’t be in a better location. Work is going well, I think I’ll learn a lot, I already have (not so into spending long days at my computer researching) but its pretty good experience, I like the people I work with, and it’s a step in the right direction. Last week a friend of ours got married, the wedding was really nice. Israeli weddings are NOTHING like at home... very simple, people come dressed from ball gown to jeans- literally, and everyone goes nuts. Pretty cool experience and our friend looked beautiful.
Right now my aunt, uncle and cousin are in town for a bar-mitzvah, so I have been meeting up with them the past few days which is pretty nice, and I’ll see them tonight for one last time.
(This post is now outdated about two weeks, but when I get home and can grab some photos Of the new place, I'll post it.)

Peace & Love.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Ain't nothing gonna break my stride ...

"...'nobody gonna slow me down, oh no- I got to keep on moving.."
Where to begin..
This past week got a bit lost somewhere between looking for new apartments and getting extremely sick for a solid 48 hours. The week ended with finding a new place, signing the lease, then celebrating in tel aviv for one night-back to Jerusalem in the morning-then travel to a little city called Lod for shabbos... run on sentence, run on week.
My current lease is up on the 21, so it was time to relocate. Apartment searching in Israel is not something I would wish upon anyone... but simultaneously, looking back, it was a pretty hysterical experience I am proud to say I have conquered. Apartments here are everywhere, behind dodgy allys, in what looks to be a bomb shelter, in the backs of people's homes, and behind the black curtains of an old shwarma joint... yes, some little asian woman showed us an "apartment" that was basically just a few metal twin beds and a make-shift bathroom placed in an old storefront with black curtains...needless to say, it was a funny journey.
A week from today I move into my new place.. my apartment in the shuk. The balcony looks into the center of what is the busiest open air food market in Jerusalem; Machane Yehuda. Gina and I are pumped, the place is cute and funky, and our new landlord Ricah has filled the big shoes of pappa Nachum, our current landlord who doesn't seem to like us much anymore (most likely a combination of the fact that we never accepted his invitation for shabbos, had a small electrical fire, melted our water heater off the wall.. broke a desk, bed, and changed our minds to not extend the lease with him a few times).
The job is going well so far, it seems like it might be interesting.. Pretty busy otherwise just cleaning and packing. Next week from Nachlaot!

Peace & Love

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Second Semester Life. . .

Phase II begins.
The almost half-way mark of my time overseas is approaching. My mom has come and left- Josh Goldberg has arrived- marking second-semester Hebrew U. Phase II rings in. My mom's visit was really nice. Spoiled for a week, stepping into places I wouldn't dare without her, solid Argentinian steaks and delicious funky dinners, a trip to Eilat and a journey across borders to Petra (Jordan), a trip up north to Herzliya to a Kosher Zen Spa (rockin' location), and some quality mom time. It went quickly, and now i'm back in Jerusalem.. still sittin' at that Cup O' Joe. The Cappuccino is gone, and i'm just trying to catch up on life. In two weeks I begin work, not really sure how I feel about it. On one hand, I'm looking forward to starting something new, and hoping that maybe some kind of work may give me insight of where I want to go work-wise from here.. but i'm also a bit nervous to begin and anxious for what i'll be doing, what it will be like, and I think i'm kind of awkward in office-like settings.. or I make it that way. In any event, i'll be working for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs in one of their research departments. I suppose i'm finally doing the "real person" thing for a bit.. we'll see how it goes. Not much else to say for myself. This past week was really nice and relaxing. Jordan was pretty cool, Petra was beautiful, and Aqaba was funny. I felt a bit of Egypt in the dealings with the locals, but overall it was a pretty different vibe than my experiences in Egypt or elsewhere. One bummer from that trip might be that when I got to border control, they told me that crossing over would cancel my visa, then proceeded to tell me that I may not even be allowed back in- in the end I clearly got back in, but am currently not on a visa and have to go back to the office of the ministry of interior... not going to be a fun adventure for the second time.
Nice "O-H" props to Santonio Holmes.

8 days of light . . . 8 days a week.

“A little light dispels a lot of darkness.”

Every Joe and Sally in America knows about Chanukah. Christmas = Chanukah. Oh you're Jewish? Happy Chanukah. When you ask an average Jew about it, he'll tell you he celebrates it, but in reality, its not our "big" holiday. I love latkes, and presents, the great Chanukah memories, but I don't think I ever fully felt Chanukah until this Kislev in Israel. The Mitzvah (act) of publicizing the miracle (displaying the Chanukah menorah) literally filled the streets with their flames. Narrow winding streets draped with dark Jerusalem stone in the nights glowed of shinning oil lamps lit and placed outside each and every door and window in the crowded neighborhood. Souvganiot (jelly-donuts) sold and handed out all over the streets and in every corner-store. Shoe-shop? Menorah in the window. Holy-bagel? Workers lighting their menorah in the window as you sit down for dinner. The spirit can be felt all over. Chabad-niks driving around with giant menorah's on their cars, 20ft menorahs in the center of every park, street, and circle. Chanukah music blasting from the city center, and menorahs being publicly lit at the bars as you sit down for a happy hour. Light is filling the streets and also the hearts of people across the signs of christmas, but the spirit of Chanukah can be felt deep within. It's said that the light, happiness and warmth of Chanukah are meant to warm the rest of the cold winter, and I can truly say that this year, my Chanukah might have accomplished this...