Tuesday, December 29, 2009

consuming my time and my money....

No, I didn't all of a sudden get kids- those classic money/ time consumers- I got an apartment. Well, rented, an apartment, rather, which already makes me dread the moment I need to move again. That event needs to be avoided at all costs. So until I marry and/or buy my own place (what dreams!) I'm hunkering down. I'm happy to let you know that I am no longer camping out in my apartment, but sleep in a real bed. (What luxury I tell you!)

The living room has also much improved, as evidenced below.

I've also taken one giant step towards turning the enclosed balcony into an acceptable dinning room with the acquisition of a table. (Yeah, below the giant purple table clothe.) And no, I didn't find invisible chairs, I just haven't found chairs. But we'll ignore that issue at the moment. This is the "progress" update.

My magnets have found a happy home on my new fridge, which is now neighbors with my much beloved magnetic white board which totes the remnants of my "to-do" list.

Not to be forgotten is my favorite feature- the magnetic fort door, covered in postcards I've received since moving to Israel. It's a lovely sight to see before going out in the world every day.

And my grand finale- a simple reward to myself- flowers. The first I've bought for myself since coming to Israel. And they're in a beautiful vase gifted to me by wonderful friends on what may be my most memorable birthday to date. (And a very hard act to follow!)

Friday, December 25, 2009

New City; New Transportation

Back in May I posted a video of a colleague's drive to work in Dhaka. To give you a little taste of the difference between my current city and my previous home, here's a video made by a fellow oleh (immigrant) of taking the bus down Yaffo Street in Jerusalem. You'll notice lots of construction as well as Yaffo is in the process of becoming the main street for the new light rail train. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Bragging Rights

Freshmen year of college my roommate, Liz, and I established a few rules. One of them was bragging rights. We both understood that no one really likes a braggart but, it's also important to have someone with whom you can share your accomplishments in that 5-year-old, "Look what I did, Mommy!" kind of way. So, today, I am claiming reverse bragging rights. Now I can tell everyone, "Look what my MOMMY did!"

Here are three very different creative pieces from my mom. (Yes, she would be the one of Gypsy Queen fame and blog title inspiration.)

Functional art: a window at my brother's house that Mom painted to avoid the need of a window treatment.

Cool, funky elephant. (Yeah, and who said math teachers are not creative?!?)

My favorite, an awesome quilt. (I have to say, she can do a lot with a few piece of fabric!)

May you all be blessed to find pride in your loved-ones' abilities! Long live the bragging rights!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Shawn is at it again

In my travels, I have been blessed with meeting many interesting people. People who see the world just a bit differently and maybe, aren't willing to accept the world as it's presented. While living in Dhaka, Bangladesh, I came across Shawn, a rather optimistic Canadian with ties to Bangladesh who was willing to turn his life on his head to make a difference.

I have to admit, I'm not quite the optimist as he is, but I'm sure glad he's out there. Here's his lasted youtube video. I think his work speaks for him. Enjoy.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Camping out in my apartment

I think one of the deepest yet least contemplated about cultural characteristic is TIME. Sure, there is the classic "Spanish time" where people arrive hours after the hour stated on the invitation (woe to the punctual American) and I've also discovered "African time" which has no concept of a linear progression. "I'm coming over now" could have the speaker arriving in five minutes or five days. I'm not quite sure I understand the concept of "Israeli time" although it seems to be just as unidentifiable as the population that creates it, the blend of Ashkenazi Jews from western (European) countries where seconds matter, Sephardic Jews coming from Arab nations, Ethiopian Jews, whom may never have seen a clock before immigrating, and of course, Arab Israelis, Beduins, and Druzes. But what I do know is this- settling into my apartment is taking .way. .too. .long.

Maybe everything is just that much easier when not navigating cultural norms and a language that are neither "normal" nor natural for me. Every step is at least five times as difficult when functioning off of only 5 months of Hebrew study. (Blessed be the friends who are also my translators.) Simply knowing where to go to purchase items and know what is a "good price" in this economic environment- so small, but so challenging.

To put this in perspective- between hunting for an apartment, negotiating and signing a contract, getting the shipment delivered, searching for appliances, searching for appliances, buying appliances, waiting for appliances, complaining to store about lack of appliances, waiting for appliances, delivery of appliances, waiting for appliances to be installed, painting walls, cleaning, etc- has taken over a month. At this point I'm still 1) without a mattress (it came from Bangladesh moldy) 2) without a functioning kitchen 3) without a roommate with whom I could split the expenses.

But not to be on a kvetch-fest; at least I found a place, have a wonderful landlord (who actually ending up taking me appliance shopping), have been supported and aided every step of the way by wonderful friends. I'm just ready to hang the pictures and be able to walk across the floor without navigating the homeless objects and bedding in my path.

And I still get frustrated because for all my travels and adventures, I still tick by an American clock. But in the face of my frustration, my Israeli friends say, "le-at, le-at"- "slowly, slowly".

So, without further ado, my current campsite:

STUFFED- the wall unit that made this place look so appealing. Which is good, since I forgot how much I owned!

STUFFED- The floor artistically decorated with as-of-yet still homeless items.

Primary campsite, i.e. the living room- complete with make-shift floor-bed.

The still unusable kitchen, including a band new fridge (delivered an hour ago). Exciting but not pictured; an oven and range (hooked up a couple of hours after I almost cried on the phone when informed of the "three or so days" it would take) and a washing machine (still in a box, on the attached balcony). And yes, all the dishes still in their boxes waiting for the exciting trip to the mikva.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


After six months of living out of three suitcases (plus carry-on) I have be reunited with my STUFF. It's a day I've been alternately anxiously awaiting and dreading. As you may well know, I seem to have a complicated relationship with my STUFF. Finding a space for my STUFF was a large part of the apartment hunt, and even as I cut tape, open boxes and try to organize, I feel comforted and suffocated. I can't help but feel that if I've lived half a year without it, none of it can really be that necessary. Yes, I like my framed highly complex woven silk textile from the mountainous kingdom of Bhutan- it reminds me of my lovely trip there- but I don't need it. Even before everything was carried up the stairs by the moving company, I'm already dreading the day I'll need to re-box it and schlep it all out. I'm still digging around looking for the transformer so I can plug in my 110V massage chair- a decadent and thoroughly enjoyed item no doubt- but the world wouldn't end if I didn't own it. I was just giddy to pull out the handmade fair-trade puppets and play with them- so many items I could list here- countless pieces of wall art, piles of clothes, boxes of dishes- maybe once everything is in it's place and nicely tucked away and I can actually see the floor again the weight of the STUFF will not overwhelm me. Not until the next time I need to pack it up-

I watch my peers here in Jerusalem with envy- for them, stuff seems to come and go with so much more ease. I still feel incredibly lucky that I had my shipment from Bangladesh to Israel included in my previous work contract. I'm happy that I don't have to start from scratch- or three suitcases. But I can never seem to shake the feeling that for one person, I own too much. But selling it all off doesn't seem that appealing to me- not quite yet. There is still something freeing in the feeling that the choices I made are not as controlled by the quantity I own but rather the quality of my relationships and the improvement of my spirit. Even as I write this, and how weighted I feel with my STUFF, I guess it's never really stopped me from going anywhere. Maybe I'm doing better with my STUFF than I imagined...