Step-by-Step: Making Aliyah to Israel

Documenting the very personal process of making Aliyah (immigration to Israel) by one very atypical Israeli-American girl. Aliyah on 17, August, 2005. Roadmap: What do you mean there's no roadmap?! Hang on, we're in for a bumpy ride! Ole!

Monday, February 28, 2005

Just saw the scrolling just-in news on YNET and it is bad: 5th death in Tel Aviv bombing.

Honestly, I don't think the cycle of violence is ever going to end. There are too many people who want Israel eradicated, obliterated. So they will attack and attack. But they won't win.

Unfortunately, neither will we.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

A surprising phone call happened tonight from my mother. The first words out of her mouth were, "I picked up a newspaper today and I suppose you've heard about the attack in Tel Aviv..." Yes, of course. I expected this to be followed by a lot of "are you sure"s and "maybe you should reconsider"s. Instead I got, "have you also heard about all the anti-semitism that is sprouting up in the Soviet Union?" (Yes, of course) and several other examples of recent goings-ons in Europe from her and then, "I really think you are doing the right thing. Just please be careful and don't go out to clubs very often."

She also said she's thought about it and thinks I might be safer in Tel Aviv than here in the States because Israel has suicide attacks but not often the general run of the mill nutburger criminal murders and attacks like we have all the time here in the States. Of course, given that a guy tried to break into her house this afternoon while she was home (she tells me at the end of the conversation!) might have coloured her opinion at least for the moment.

So then we got to exchange police stories because the police were also here at my apartment today. They knocked on my door wanting to know if I knew "this guy" and showed me a driver's license they took out of a wallet. The address was listed as my address. Never saw the guy before. We went down and asked the old codger who has lived here since the beginning of time --literally since he was 5 and he is now retired and obsessed with recycling but that's another story. He said he'd never seen the guy before and that he certainly hadn't lived here. After they left we scratched our heads ...This is New York and cops don't come to personally try to deliver lost wallets. And how and why did his license list my address?! No clue, no clue. I so wanted to be a fly on the wall in their cop car to find out what that was all about.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

No words

Bombing outside Tel Aviv nightclub

Mean girl

I get the mean award of the week this time. I was mean to my roommate (yes, he's a shit and usually deserves it but this time it was unprovoked meanness on my part). I don't know why exactly, but I was feeling really irritable. Actually, I didn't know I was irritable until I had contact with him and my reaction clued me in that, hmm I must be feeling like a machshefa. It was kinda surprising too because I didn't really talk to any other humans except for my friend Michie on the phone today and that was a nice conversation.

When he got home he gave me $80 in cash toward the 7 months of dsl service. Ok, finally but at least he paid up. You'd think I would have been happy. Then he told me he'd talked to the electric company (because I hadn't "taken care of it" --that is probably what set me off come to think of it: I'd called them 3 times over the past few months --at an hour holding time a shot -- and each time basically they'd said look, we realize your monthly bill is double what your old apartment bill was and it is high but it is also in line with the amount of the bill of the previous tenents in this apartment and so it is probably the inherited refridgerator that is working at less than efficient and sucking up your kilowatts.). Anyway, they suggested to him that we turn everything off for a period of 15 minutes and check the meter before and after and see if something other than what is on in our apartment is drawing electricity (i.e., neighbors, building heating system). So ok this sounds fine to me but he wanted to turn everything off for the entire night _or for 6 hours tomorrow_ because "15 minutes isn't going to tell us anything." Then I was mean.

I won't go into details of all I said but suffice it to say that I was rude, bitchy, snarky and even stooped to going off-topic to criticizing the hideous combination of clothing he'd somehow managed to put together from his seriously bad wardrobe (he needs the Queer Eye folks badly) as well as other unrelated issues. Oh yes, and he'd actually purchased toilet paper yesterday and so I thanked him for that in the most ungracious manner possible (way to go Kate, he'll be sure to run out and buy another roll real soon) by pointing out that this was certainly a first and what had happened to him, did someone hit him on the head and adjust his personality or was it a one-time fluke? Ahem yes. Ahem.

I did apologize. And I agreed to shutting everything off tomorrow for a period of two hours (which I still think is ridiculous and a major inconvenience but so be it). LOL, and I definitely shocked him, he was like "why are you being so mean? I've never seen you act like this before." I won't say he didn't have a taste of his own medicine coming but I will say that I certainly could have picked a more appropriate occasion for giving it to him.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

And continuing the day's good news, Celestial Blue may be coming to spend 5 months in Israel. (Everyone go twist her arm, err I mean give her encouragement, to go for it). Plus there is a great new group blog out that just sprouted and it is written by some of my very favourite writers and the offering is already scrumptious. (hat tip to Lisa). Now why can't every day be like this?

Some days are just good...

and today is one of them. I sent off (finally, finally) my Nefesh B'Nefesh application. Express mail, of course, because I'm paranoid that it won't get there by the 28th (hey, getting better on the procrastination level here maybe because today is not the 27th :). Everyone cross fingers, toes, and eyes please!

Got my tax forms back from the CPA today too and, rather than the 2K he thought I would owe, I am getting a small refund! Last year I owed the govt almost 4K, so whew what a relief and a half! I encourage people to use a real accountant and not H & R Block --so ok, thank you to NBN because if I hadn't had to have a CPA sign off on that financial statement I would have gone to H.R. again and now even if I don't get chosen for financial help they helped me indirectly (and btw, H & R Block charged more than the CPA did).

Finally, that major chapter that I have due on March 1st is still due on March 1st but I suddenly remembered this morning that a couple years ago I had agreed to and written an article for an edited book deal that never materialized and I never got around to re-packaging it for another venue. I had intended to do a bit of updating and then submit it to a journal I had in mind. But if someone isn't screaming deadline at me these "do it at your own initiative things" just don't tend to get done --mainly because I have too many people screaming deadline! at me. I took a look at it over coffee this morning and realized HOLY COW this is pretty much exactly what I had planned to write and cover for this chapter. So, a few changes here and there (2 days' work at a max), a bit of updating to highlight my newest data, and voila one 40 page chapter will be ready to send off. A nearly painless experience.

And I had a good Hebrew day to top it all off.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Sharon in Arabic Arik gives first interview to an Arabic newspaper.

It did still get there on Friday at least (Oregon time) and with 13 minutes to spare. Sigh. Groan. Now tomorrow I can get to work on all the things with March 1st deadlines. I'm not even thinking of those due March 5, 15th, April 1...

Somebody shoot me. Put me out of my misery.

The grant is not done.

Not even close.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Brrrr, it is freezing outside: sunny and snowing at the same time. Go figure. Just got back from the CPA, taxes done, financial statement for Nefesh b'Nefesh validated (I have a networth of 15k --is this a good thing or a bad thing?).

I have a Gmail account thanks to the totally awesome Celestial Blue who I am really hoping will be an olah chadasha soon too!

Now to the grant. Due 5 p.m. but...I just realized 5 p.m. _Oregon_ time. That's an extra 3 hours! I can write 10 pages and come up with 5 studies in 8 hours can't I? Ay yi yi yi yi....ok to work!


I was so ready to congratulate my little self when I hit class today and the first thing that happened was we got our last quizzes back and, for the first time in history, I got a perfect 10. Just call me Mary Lou Hebrew.

Then, however, she handed out the new quiz and I rapidly discovered to my horror that I had quite obviously studied (yes in the 15 frantic minutes of studying I did --add another thing to the list of things not to do on the subway, or rather only on the subway) the wrong stuff. What, you mean it wasn't all the adjectives and their opposites and those hideous hitpael verbs in the future tense? What is this? Oy, it appears to be the hideous masculine nouns that like to run around pretending to be feminine when they get together in groups (and vice versa) --only, I didn't study these so I have no clue which is which. Of course, she didn't stick any of the easy, everyday ones in there, oh no, she put in stuff like "rock," "pit" and "field." I guess the fact that I knew that they were rock and field is worth something to me personally. But worse there was also the grand boxing match: Oto vs. Al. This I also didn't study. In fact, I wasn't even there for class the day we went over this. Think I could plead momentary insanity rather than idiocy?

Thursday, February 17, 2005

cozy kitties

A little bright spot in my hectic day today was "my girls." I came home to find Pandy and Buffy both asleep and both *gasp* in the same room, on the same bed. I was so happily smiling to see this that I had to run and take a picture of them...but first I had to assure myself that they were indeed asleep and that one (or both) were not *dead*. Because, you see, dead seemed a much more plausible explanation than asleep. Together. Alright, not exactly together, more like on the same bed and as far away from one another as it was catly possible to get and still not fall off on the floor. Still, this is a monumental advance.

If you've ever heard that females are catty, I'm here to tell you that yes they are! and my two chatulot are the proof. Three years (3!!!) they have lived under the same roof and they still hiss and growl at one another on sight like the other one is some strange, new, intruder cat that has just invaded the sanctity of their holy temple.

Pandy, growls, hisses and chases. Buffy hisses and runs. If Buffy would ever get it through her head that Pandy has no _claws_ (tho she does have a good 10 pound advantage) life would be so much happier for my timid, fearful little one.

I got some things done today that I didn't expect to get done, go me. I'm feeling hormonally challenged and I think that explains the tiredness. I've come to the conclusion that one should never attempt to write an essay in hebrew while on the subway train to class --you write things like af pa'am when you meant af echad and don't catch it. But trust me, your teacher will. The grade wasn't too bad though, an 85. I'll take it.

One piece of bad news came my way today: grant deadline is March 1 but---I have to get my draft to my co-pleaders by Friday at 5. As in, the day after tomorrow. Help!

Good news: Was checking out the apartment prices in H near the potential U and woo hoo, I might be able to afford one of 'em in my lifetime! Especially if I can learn this trick of buying an apartment at U.S. prices while living on an Israeli, someone clue me in!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

tired and excited

I will not be too excited because I do not want to be too disappointed. BUT, I got an email today from the president of the U I sent my CV off to a couple of weeks ago and he said, "We are clearly interested in your academic expertise..." and "We may be interested in exploring the possibility of hiring a person with your knowledge on a part time bases ..starting October 2005." And he wants to meet with me in April here in NY! There were a lot of mays and possiblys in there and he noted that they haven't hired a dean yet and whoever he or she will be will be in charge of making hiring decisions. But it is a foot in the door. Hey, it is half a body in the door. And my half of a body will take a half time position in a heartbeat (half of one).

If I weren't so tired I'd be dancing around the room. Well I did a bit of dancing about earlier when I got the email. I'm not sure why I am so tired: I actually went to bed before 2 a.m. for once in my life (I was dropping yesterday too) and so got a good bit of sleep. But I've been falling down exhausted feeling since I got up. I haven't been able to do a thing today though I started a million different things. I thought about starting a million more. And I didn't do any. This is relatively typical of me, the starting a million and not finishing any, when I'm out of my ritalin --yes sob, and I can't get in to see my doctor until March 10th which is just criminal, I tell you --but not the tiredness. Off the meds I'm usually like the energizer bunny who just keeps going and going and going. And tres cranky too.

But this is crunch time with many and major deadlines looming and, when under the gun, meds or no meds I'm usually able to go into overdrive and get things done. Tomorrow and Thursday will both be days from hell, running from morning til night and so no chance of doing any of the big things on my list and no chance of just falling into bed and pulling the covers over my eyes and sleeping. This weekend I have got to get it together and rock!

Saturday, February 12, 2005

the porn queen? not exactly

Hmm, I got really excited to see that 2003 folks had visited my site total (woo hoo) and decided to check my referrers and see if I could figure out where the brave #2000 had come from....and found an interesting thing when I looked:

I am being linked by a porno site.

Not sure how or why.

Yes a porno site sent lucky #2000 --who probably didn't consider himself (herself? nahh) so lucky when they hit demure little me. Then again, if you have to visit a porno site, that seems to say that you ain't gettin' too lucky in any event.

There is no evident link to my site on their page. I did find a ton of folks, similarly linked, screaming their heads off to be de-linked by the delinquent site. The one thing we all seem to have in common is that we all use it is some diabolical hack. I'd bet they have hidden code that somehow manages to give them a reciprocal "link hit" to all these sites in order to up their ranking in google or something like that.

Kinda funny but mostly annoying.

Whew, tough week but at last it is the weekend (although I have a lot of work to do over the weekend too!). The roommate situation is better. I gave him one week to pay up his share of the utilities and told him he should start looking for a new place to live as of April 1st. I would have said middle of March but I'll be out of town for nearly two weeks then and don't want to deal with the hassle of him moving out while I'm away and leaving the place G-d knows how. It is amazing how nice he is suddenly being. And of course he apologized and tried to say that he had never said I was stupid and gave 5 and 1/2 million excuses as to why he behaved so badly. The idiot is finally aware of what a good deal he has screwed up with his behaviour. Too bad for him, I am not changing my mind. I've got signs up around campus for a roommate. Honestly, I feel like Greta Garbo at the moment, "Ani rotza lihiyot levad!"

Tomorrow I have to try to _not_ think in bad hebrew or good english and try to get my German brainspace back because I have to fix the page-proofs for my very first article (well book chapter) written in German. Woo hoo. Given that I should have done this 3 weeks ago and the editor is screaming bloody murder for it, I guess I shouldn't be woo-hooing too much.

I also realized I have a chapter due (in english at least!) on March 1st and I haven't started on it yet, as well as a grant application deadline. Hmm, two weeks, this _could_ happen. I need a miracle but it could.

I procrastinate as you can see. Badly. Yes Michie, if you read this I know you will probably scream that I should never have agreed to do all these things in the first place. You are right. You are right. I hate it when you are right.

I think I did well on the hebrew test yesterday :). Oh yeah, and I bought a kewl little digital tape recorder on Wednesday and taped the conversation class. Now I just have to figure out how to get it onto the computer and then into ipod format so I can listen to it while running errands. Sarit Hadad is just gonna have to make way on those errands. And yeah, I know her music is like bubble gum pop but I like it anyway.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Someone please tell me it is ok to kick my roommate ba'tachat. Please. It is funny how a little thing can really be the last straw. In this case, one comment. But that comment is totally indicative of his entire attitude, general incivility, and complete irresponsibility. Ok, irresponsibility is the wrong word it is more like a tendency to use, take advantage of, and stomp on people.

Can you tell I'm a little pissed off? If you don't want to hear me bitch, come back to a later post and I'll try to be nicer. Right now, nice is not in _my_ vocabulary.

Last night I'm studying like crazy for the hebrew test that was scheduled for today, trying to make sure I have the huge amount of vocabulary down pat (thankfully she decided we needed more time and so it now on Thursday) while simultaneously trying to write a 3 page short story also due today and also in hebrew. I go into the other room and start to ask, " So to say 'to turn on the tv...'"

He didn't let me finish before jumping in with "I'm not going to tell you. It is too complicated for you. And if I told you, you are too stupid to remember how to say that anyway." I was like, "right "lhadlik et ha' televizia" is real complex, I'm sure I could never remember that, much less ever be able to conjugate that in the future tense 2nd person feminine which is what I was _going_ to try to do and see if I was correct." And then we got into a major argument.

Because the entire point of us living together was for me to be able to get a lot of spoken practice. That was the deal. That is why he is paying less than 1/3rd of the rent for this apartment. HELLO. And if I added up all the time he has spent talking to me in hebrew or clarifying a point since we moved in together in August it would total less than 2 hours.

Not only that but he hasn't paid a single, as in not one, month's utility bill when we are supposed to be splitting them. He has not bought a single roll of toilet paper or other necessity. No, excuse me, he did buy some while I was in Texas over winter break -- just enough to last him til I got back.

He has no problem asking me for _hours_ of help with wording things for him --which I have freely given even when I had other things to do because he was stressed and upset. I give him hours of help with the damn computer that, I'm sorry, _he_ is too much of an idiot to remember. I even help him pick out which outfit to wear for his stupid auditions.

The few times I have been able to brow-beat or guilt him into speaking to me in hebrew he purposely talks at the speed of light, as in even faster than your average Israeli in a hurry. And if I ask him to please slow down or repeat anything, he refuses to continue saying, I'm too stupid to understand anyway so there is no point.

I think I'm going to tell him to find a new place to live for next month. I've really had it. And to think I felt sorry for the ben zona because his mother never once said she loved him. Ha, if I were her I wouldn't say it either! Who could?!

Monday, February 07, 2005

Sarah has put up a very thoughtful and insightful set of posts on the highs and lows of being religious (specifically of being an Orthodox Jewish girl). And I envy her. Yes, secular girl here envies both her highs and her lows. Because, being secular - being very, very, very secular - all I really have are those "lows."

Being non-religious is a lonely experience. There is no comfort of feeling like there is a G-d who is looking out for you, caring about what occurs in your life or anyone elses. There is no sense that what you do and how you behave affects anything beyond yourself and those whom you touch, directly or indirectly, through your actions. So I try to be a good person (I don't always succeed) and to do good things, not for G-d's sake but for the sake of the people I share this world with.

Studies have shown that people who believe get a lot of benefits: they live longer, overall they are healthier, in later life they are happier and have more life satisfaction. In short, they are more resiliant, content, and at peace.

I would like to be able to believe. I've tried. I went through a "religious phase" when I was about 14. I went to services at Chabad House, tried to keep halachot (extra difficult while living in a very non-religious household) to the best of my ability, I felt some of those highs, and desperately wanted to believe. But all the time there was the little voice in the back of my mind saying, "Ok, if there is a G-d then why do all these bad things happen and to very good people? If He is not able to stop them from happening, then why bother? If He _is_ able to stop them from happening and for whatever reason chooses not to, then _really_ why bother?"

Now all that said, I'm not an athiest, exactly. I kind of keep one foot in each camp, I guess you would say. I say this only because I've discovered that at times of extreme duress I find myself fervantly praying to this G-d that I'm not sure exists and --if He does --want to give a good piece of my mind to. And I say this because I regularly _do_ give Him a good piece of my mind in my own little private, one-way "conversations." If I totally didn't believe, then...why bother?

I know that I would be happier if I could believe wholeheartedly and thoroughly. I just can't. So I'm left with envying those who can both their highs and their lows.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

My best friend Michie put up some really scary pictures of our night out karaokying --but trust me, we sounded much more scary than we look - on her new blog. She may be Korean but she's a Jew at heart, right up there with Hatshepsut who again has some must-read info and stats on her site :)

I'm breathlessly waiting for the new installment of Lisa's incredible narrative of her aliyah and life in Tel Aviv right in the middle of the intifada. That girl needs to write a book and I don't mean maybe.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Dear OLEH...!!

"Mazel tov on your Aliyah approval!!!" ...said my approval letter which came in the mail TODAY.

Champagne anyone?!