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.

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