Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Brucha ha'shava!

Or, I'm back!

Got in Tuesday morning at about 6:30, was at work by about 10, got home, napped for an hour and went to sleep at a slightly-later-than-I-would-have-liked 1:30 am, and went to work today also.

It is time for me to go to bed, because tomorrow is the first day of school at my new school! Wish me luck!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Stormwatch 2011: Irene

Storm hit. Not too much damage in my area, although there was significant damage from fallen trees and flooding-- lots of flooding. A sinkhole actually opened up in my general area and cars fell in. Oops.

I predicted that my flight would be 3-12 hours delayed. As of this morning it was on-time, despite the airport being closed. I kept checking the airline website, and once I saw that the later Sunday flights were canceled I called the airline to find out what was going on with my flight. They said it was still on time and would be leaving as planned.

Well, I then read a news reports (actually, two) said that the airports were closed and would remain closed until Monday afternoon, possibly even Tuesday morning. So I called again. This time I got to a wonderful agent who told me that, yes, my flight was on time and there was even a flight leaving Tel Aviv that would get to the airport around 5 am. He insisted this, despite the Port Authority's statement that the airports were closed.

At about 5 pm I got a message that my flight was delayed until 1300 the next day. Kol hakavod ElAl, for realizing that your planes cannot fly in/out of a closed airport. So I went out to see my Bubby and Zaidy and then some other friends. Yay for getting to see people!

More later.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Storm watch

Yeah, so I might not be back in time to go to my schools before school starts in a week...great way to start the year off in a new school.

On the upside, I am not upset about having more time with my family here.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

מתעצבנת על העולם- Annoyed at the world

I have four more days here, including Shabbos. So really, about 3.5 (counting Friday and motza"sh as one).
I. Am. Screwed. There is no way that all my stuff that I'm planning on taking will fit into my suitcases, even with being overweight. So I guess I'm leaving a bunch of it here (mostly seforim, reading books, cookbooks, and textbooks, all which would be good to have), which is annoying but I will live. It could be worse-- I could have only one suitcase.

Oh, and did I mention that there is a hurricane that may affect (read: delay) my flight? Fan-tas-tic.

Monday, August 22, 2011

From my actual journal

I have this blog, but I also have an actual handwritten journal that spans a few notebooks. I started journaling in college, often using the back of a small notebook that I carried for last-minute reminders, shopping lists, packing lists, and recipes. Those backs of notebooks have since been upgraded to their own notebooks, and my journal now spans multiple notebooks.

This was written earlier this evening (there are occasional translations that I put in, which are translations and are not in my actual journal. They are marked. Other than that, it's exactly how it is written in my journal):

August 21, 2011- 9:39 pm- 96 st.- waiting for the 2 home
Home. Always that funny (not really) word followed-- accompanied by-- a feeling of duality and confusion. Oh joy.
But that wasn't the point of this.
I'm on my way back from a date. Date was nice and it would be nice to see this guy again. But he's not planning on making aliyah in the near future. [Note to self: (a) Just because someone served in the Israeli army doesn't mean they want to live there; (b) Doesn't mean they speak Hebrew; (c) Ask that question BEFORE you ask them out. End note.]
We kind of were leaving it as, it would be nice to go out again- maybe before I go back. But I didn't think feel that was right, because I know that I want to live in Israel. I could live in the US-- or somewhere outside of Israel-- for a bit, but I want to raise my family there. Despite the educational system which I hate. No, hate is too strong a word-- it should be reserved for things that deserve it-- like Hamas, Hezbollah, and Ahmadinejad. Anyway. Digression.
I was walking down the hill in VV this past Shabbos and I thought, "Well-- what if I get married and moved to America for a year or two?" And felt like I was going to cry. Actually cry. Doesn't really make sense, but I feel like I want my shana rishona [edit that was not in my journal: shana rishona = first year, referring to the first year of marriage] to be...not holy, that's not the right word- But I want it to be in Israel.
Anyway, so I didn't feel it was right, blah-blah, but I felt that an explanation was warranted. So I told him about the person who I could have married, had I stayed here. And I felt myself getting very quiet-- not my voice, because I still need that conviction to remind myself and help myself recognize that it was right-- but I think-- for the first time I felt a measure of peace with that decision. It still isn't total at-peace with the decision, but it's the most שלם [edit that was not in my journal: That word transliterates to "shah-laym," which in Hebrew litereally means "wholeness," but when someone is "shalem" with something it means they've kind of made peace with it and they're ok with it] I've felt with it in two years. Just amazing.

I think it's good I took the train home tonight. Writing is good for me.

10:20 pm:
Even if I could live here-- I've changed-- too much, I think, for him. He still loves the pre-aliyah Lauren, and that's not who I am now. זה מה שיש [edit that was not in my journal: Those words transliterate to, "zeh mah sheh-yesh," which in Hebrew means, "that's what there is," kind of like, "it is what it is."

Friday, August 19, 2011

Double-U. Tee. Eff.

In case some of you missed the news, there were multiple coordinated terror attacks today in Southern Israel. Here is Google News' roundup (pretty large selection, and not half-bad). To make it a little clearer: The attacks were aimed at a passenger bus, a group of soldiers, and private (civilian) cars. The current death toll from those fired on is 8. That would be 8 too many people.

The recording of the call as it was received by Magen David Adom (EMS) here

I'm not usually a political person and really prefer to have as little to do with politics as possible (and I moved to Israel from NY, where it doesn't really matter what I vote, it's a Democratic state...why?) but this makes me mad. Pissed off. My friend who lives in the South where missiles and rockets are fired at pretty much every day put this message on her facebook status: A mis queridos vecinos en Gaza, ESTA NOCHE ME GUSTARIA DORMIR. gracias. [My dear neighbors in Gaza, TONIGHT I WANT TO SLEEP. thank you.]" I don't live in the South, nor do I get woken up by sirens warning me of impending missile/rocket arrivals. But my friends do. Other people living in that area do.

Israel struck back today, and 7 terrorists who did this are dead. But for those 7, there are 7,000 (yes, I meant that number-- there are probably 70,000, but hey...) more to continue what those 7 started. And that, dear readers, is what my country deals with.

But is Israel safe? The answer is, yes. I am more scared that something will happen to me here in NY than in Israel. I don't fear the terrorists-- I don't remember who said it, but "Every bullet has its destination." If I'm going to. G-d forbid, be injured or killed-- it doesn't matter if I'm in NY, Israel, or Japan. Also, the attacks that are prevented aren't on the news. But it doesn't scare me to live in Israel.

I was walking with my friend yesterday by Union Square, and the was a suitcase just sitting there in the middle of the pedestrian plaza area. I turned to my friend (who is also Israeli) and said, "What does that say about me if I saw that suitcase and my first reaction was to call the police?" And then we just laughed and continued walking, not giving it a second thought (a person came and took it anyway). Like I said in a previous post-- it's an extra or heightened awareness to something that looks off. Not fear.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Relationship changes, II

Again-- another follow up that I didn't plan.

On A Soldier's Mother, she posted this about moments that she had with her son during the army, when she would take him to/from base and conversations that they would have.
I started reading the blog again (aka, when I remember...?) and replied to that post with the following comment: "Secret that Eli(e) isn't going to tell you, because I wouldn't say it to my parents-- it's just one of those things we (kids) don't really say because it opens up a certain vulnerability that we don't want to admit we have: despite being technically grown-ups, we still need you (parents) and value what you have to say as long as it's not forced on us.
But those times that you (parents) give us (kids) rides and there's no pressure like you just say, "Hey, want a ride?" just to make our lives easier even though we could be fine without it-- those are the best times for conversations that we remember. We might not remember what we talked about, but just having the conversations is what we appreciate. And we actually listen despite the "Imma/Abba/Mom/Dad!" and eye-rollings."

On Wednesday or Friday-- I don't remember which-- I was actually just thinking that I'm really going to miss when my dad drives me to work. He gives me a ride because it's convenient for me because I can leave later, he has the time in the morning, I don't have to worry about parking which is nearly impossible by my work, and he still has the car for the day. What I haven't told him is that as nice as the ride is, I really value the time that we have during those short rides and the conversations we have then. It takes about 10 minutes for him to take me to school, which is the prefect amount of time for a conversation-- not too long. Sometimes not long enough, but in those cases it just means that we have a topic for the next day.

Those moments with my dad are some nice quality father-daughter time and not moments that I share with anyone else-- they're special. I did fieldwork near my dad's office, and sometimes he would leave earlier in the morning to get me there on time or he would pick me up on the way from work and give me a ride home. Usually he drives, but when I was learning to drive he would let me drive but we'd still talk. I have now developed the habit of telling him when I see anything in the road that could potentially be a hazard, usually at least half a block in advance, but hey-- that's the risk I run for learning to drive with my dad.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Relationship changes

A conversation that took place earlier online today (with grammatical edits only):
Friend: Don't you worry that people you write about on your blog will read it? Or is that the point?
Me: ?
Friend: You write about wishing you were closer to this person or that
Me: No, I don't mind. I'm deliberately keeping it as anonymous as it can be (no name, no location other than not in Israel, no gender), but I don't censor that much about being an olah and my aliyah process, and a very real (and hard) part of that is friendships changing

A very real part of making aliyah, and what is the hardest part for me besides the financial uncertainty, is leaving family and friends. Since I made aliyah I have made new friends and gained new families, but that doesn't minimize the hardship and pain of the changes in the relationships with my family an friends that I left in America.

Here are the "Things I Can't Do Anymore With Family/Friends That I Miss"
Calling my sisters during the middle of the day
Taking the train and/or bus and seeing my sister and her family and playing games with my niece in person
Taking the train and/or bus and going to see my grandparents and seeing how happy it makes them to see me
Seeing my little sister almost every day
Just being with my little sister
Driving to work with my dad
Doing errands with my mom
Walking home phone calls with Sara
Girls nights with Chari
Shabbos in the Heights
Peanut noodle leftovers
Cupcakes from Julie
Going to my friends houses or just meeting up for a couple of hours

There are a lot more things, but these are the first ones that come to mind quickly.

It doesn't really get easier with time. You learn how to make this new kind of relationship work. Phones, email/internet, digital pictures and video, video chats, and other communication methods make it easier to stay in touch but I still feel the changes significantly, and that hurts. It's hard to have all those changes in all your relationships at once. Really hard.

I wonder what it's like for friends and family of olim? Any "friends and family" reading this who want to comment? What are some of the things you've found hard, and what do you do about them? Have you created new...rituals or..."things" to still maintain that bond?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Where is Home?, Part III

I didn't think there was going to be a part III to this post-- there were only supposed to be two parts.

I got back from shul a little while ago and I've been reading and watching Tisha B'av-appropriate articles and videos. One of the pictures someone posted was a picture she took at the Kotel a few hours ago, and it's women and girls sitting or standing at the Kotel. One of the videos that someone posted was from the expulsion from Gush Katif. Those two pieces were when I started getting teary. Before then, the articles I was reading, the other videos I was watching-- ok, fine. But when I saw that, all I could think was, "I want to go home."

I just sent one of my friends a message saying, "i want to go home.
you dont have to say anything, there isnt really anything to say. i just needed to say that." (poor grammar and all...hey, it's instant messaging...) That person is very important in my life, but because I live in Israel and this person does not, I do not get to see or talk to that person as much as I would like. It still makes me sad that that relationship isn't what it was when I lived in NY and it will continue to have that distance, but what I said very much rings true-- I want to go home. Meaning Israel, meaning Jerusalem, meaning the Kotel. Right now there's no where I want to be more than sitting on the floor at the Kotel with hundreds of other people, mourning the Beit Hamikdash and the loss that we have.

I think I just got my answer, didn't I?

May we all be zoche [merit] to see Jerusalem and the Beit Hamikdash [Holy Temple] be rebuilt, speedily in our days, amen! And may the Mashiach [Messiah] come and bring redemption soon, in our days, amen!

And to all those who are fasting, have an easy and a meaningful fast.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Where is Home?, Part II

I define home as “the place I lose my cell phone.” I think that’s because I lose my cell phone in places that I am comfortable in—I just put it down…and eventually find it again (which is why I almost always have my phone on the loudest ring, because that way I’ll hear it when I am trying to find it).

As an olah, I have had the opportunity to acquire a few new living spaces over the past year and a half. The first was where I went straight from the airport when I made aliyah. The next was my apartment (dorm) in ulpan, and the third is the apartment I currently live in. Home is where I can go and I don’t have to give any explanations of why I’m holed up in my room and just go out to get something from the kitchen or go to the bathroom. Home is where I can go over to my family members/roommates and say, “I need a hug.” Or “I just need to be alone.” Or don’t necessarily have to say anything, but they just understand.

Home is where I go when I need to be with family, either biological or adopted.

Home is also a country, a city.

I’m American, and more than that, I’m a New Yorker, a Bronxite. I am a Yankee fan by heritage/birth, and Brooklyn is the enemy. Staten Island is closer to New Jersey than to me, and it’s not New Jersey, it’s just “Jersey.” The city, meaning Manhattan, is always “downtown,” and when I go back to the Bronx I go “uptown.” And, no, I don’t know “Jenny from the block.” My neighborhood is not bad—while the entire Bronx may have the reputation of the South Bronx, it is not the entirety of the borough and I do not fear my life when I walk out of my house. The MTA manages to screw up half of the subway lines on a weekly basis, and does unbelievably stupid things with trains that run on the same lines, such as not running one of the trains "due to track work." Or running a shuttle 5 train from the first stop to a transfer stop, then a train from the transfer stop to another large stop where they're running the 5 train (please note, the train that is between the shuttle and the second large stop runs on the same tracks as the 5).

I’m Israeli, a Jerusalemite. I live in “the bitzah” with my roommates, and most of the people that I know in my area are Anglos. I speak fluent Hebrish and reply in whatever language I am addressed in. My TZ says I live over the green line, and I’m not scared to take 443 despite Egged not having normal bus service there. I know that the people around me want to kill me—what’s new? I am not scared to take the buses, nor to walk around my neighborhood at 2 am. At sunset I understand what “Jerusalem of gold” means and watch the orange-yellow light on the buildings as the sky gets dark. I hate the expensive prices on everything including food staples, the lack of really affordable housing, and the light rail that has managed to make congestion even worse. I love seeing signs in Hebrew (and the transliterated from English) and the sales (and jacking up of prices) of relevant products at holidays. And, of course, the holidays greetings on the packages and the buses—and they’re my holidays!

So where is home? Home is NYC. Home is Israel. Home is VV. Home is where you make it.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Where is Home?

I have this conflict in me. Where is home?
I've collected a series of quotes that I've found about home. My thoughts will come after; feel free to share your own as well.

"Home is where the heart is."

"Home is where you hang your heart."

"Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to." -John Ed Pearce

"Home, the spot of earth supremely blest, a dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest." -Rober Montgomery

"What is home? A roof to keep out the rain? Four walls to keep out the wind? Floors to keep out the cold? Yes, but home is more than that. It is the laugh of a baby, the song of a mother, the strength of a father, warmth of loving hearts, lights from happy eyes, kindness, loyalty, comradeship. Home is first school and first church for young ones, where they learn what is right, what is good, and what is kind, where they go for comfort when they are hurt or sick; where joy is shared and sorrow eased; where fathers and mothers are respected and loved, where children are wanted; where the simplest food is good enough for kings because it is earned; where money is not as important as loving-kindness; where even the tea kettle sings from happiness. That is home. God bless it!"

"Home is oneness, home is my original nature. It is right here, simply in what is. There is nowhere else I have to go, and nothing else I have to become." -Tony Parsons

"Where thou art, that is home." -Emily Dickinson

"Home-- that blessed word, which opens to the human heart the most perfect glimpse of Heaven, and helps to carry it thither, as on an angel's wings."" -Lydia M. Child

"Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration." -Charles Dickens

"Home is the one place in all this world where hearts are sure of each other. It is the place of confidence. It is the place where we tear off that mask of guarded and suspicious coldness which the world forces us to wear in self-defense, and where we pour out the unreserved communications of full and confiding hearts. It is the spot where expressions of tenderness gush out without any sensation of awkwardness and without any dread of ridicule." -Frederick W. Robertson

"Home is where the trouble is."

"Home is wherever I'm with you."

"Home is where your heart breaks."

"Home is where the phone is."