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!

Thursday, June 30, 2005

I'm all excited because this afternoon I will get to meet a fellow olah-to-be who is making aliya this summer (just a couple weeks ahead of me) along with her husband and pets. One thing that is for certain is that we will not bore one another with our talk of our moving plans and what we think it will be like once we get there and so forth. Because my thoughts and activities are so geared toward making this move (with an apt more than half in boxes, how could it not be?) a large percent of what I find myself talking about with friends (not making aliya and many not Jewish) is: the move. And all that goes into it. While this is a fascinating topic for me, I'm pretty sure it isn't for them. I'm thinking that making aliya, or perhaps any big move to somewhere far away, is kind of like having a first child and then being around your as-yet-childless friends. While not having yet had a first child I do have friends who have and, without fail, for at least the first year after the happy occurance the main topic of their conversations is "the baby." Every teeny minute thing that the baby does is mentioned (at least once) and no matter where the conversation might drift off to it will inevitably come back (usually rather quickly) to "the baby." This is understandable because the wonders (and new difficulties) of the baby have become the center of their universe and focus and rightly so. For those who are as yet childless, however, the question of whether the baby may or may not have really smiled after it burped is uh....yes. It is not that the childless friends are not interested in the welfare and happiness of the proud new parent or that they don't find it interesting to hear about the progress of the little squib, but rather that a chasm has temporarily opened between them because they simply cannot relate. The majority of their day-to-day experiences and concerns are simply different. So I'm glad that I will be able to meet and talk with someone who is having the same experiences and with whom I won't have to carefully monitor how many times the words "moving, Israel, Tel Aviv, new job, etc" have already been uttered by myself!

From dawn to dusk and beyond, that has been my day today, as I ran my little legs off (well, the little feet most certainly and I have the blisters to prove it. Ouch!). Got two fans for the living room, one to blow air in and the other to blow air out of the windows. We'll see how that works. Not sure that much does work against 84% humidity plus 88 degree heat!

I also did some impulse buying today. Yes, I really need to curb this tendency and I didn't really need 'em but something just goes berserk in my brain when I see 'extreme sale.' So, I now have two t-shirts (very cute) and one new tank top (which I can justify because it is white and the instant I put something white on my body a stain of some nefarious origin immediately and almost magically appears on it --ink, coffee, you name it-- and so a back-up is good to have).

I have been inspired by two fellow bloggers lately, one on a practical and creative level and the other just touched my soul and heart --and impressed the hell out of me.

First, after seeing and reading about Savta Dotty's most beautiful lastest knitting project, I have been re-inspired to get out my not-so-beautiful latest knitting project. Well, let me define "not so beautiful." When my mother saw it, this ordinarily gushing , doting mother who runs around telling everyone that she has the most wonderful and talented daughter (no matter what project it may be that I am currently embarking on) in our universe and others, remarked, "Good G-d, that is the ugliest skirt I've ever seen." My friend Buzz winced and said, "I'm sure it will be very nice. In some future century or another. What is it?!" Michelle (G-d love her) said, "hmmm, it looks kind of like a mexican blanket" and tried to hide her wince. Michelle gets a star on her forehead for guessing what this, ahem, project will be: a blanket. Right now though, because it isn't very long and is knit in the round for double-thickness, it does kind of look like a skirt. And, er, well kinda ugly.

The idea behind the blanket was to use up all my scrap cotton yarn from various projects going back...oh, maybe 15 years. I read this pattern idea where you put all your scraps of various shades, lengths, and textures into a bag and then consecutively draw out little yarn balls and knit with them, with the requirement that you have to use whatever colour and texture you draw out. The pattern claimed you would be amazed at how beautiful this hodge-podge of colours and textures would turn out. I was sold. But I wanted to make this a special blanket (being my first blanket ever to make) and so I decided to make it a friendship blanket. To do this, instead of pulling out the next yarn-bit to knit with myself, I have a different friend or relative reach into the bag without looking and select the next colour. So each colour represents a different person I love, all woven together. Great idea, right? Sigh, except that what is amazing is just how ummm jarring to the eye, shall we say, the result is so far. Anyway I'm back at it!

The second source of inspiration I'm not going to talk about at any great length simply because I just can't adequately describe in words how this has touched me, for it has done so on so many different levels. Instead, I'm going to put a pointer over to Treppenwitz so you can read for yourself. I just noticed he has placed a humble "hang on a minute" post but, sorry David, you can't escape the fact that you are a Mensch in every meaning of the word! And really, my feelings are not based solely on one post but rather from an amalgamation of many: the wonderful values he and his wife (a heroine :) are instilling in their children and that are evident in the actions of the members of his family, the courtesy with which he treats his readers, the vignettes from his life and the lives of others he knows that he chooses to highlight...

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

You know, it gets hot in Tel Aviv, really really hot but not as hot as it is my apartment. I don't think the Sahara Desert gets this hot. It has been too hot for me to even thinking of packing a box today.

I got a surprising amount of more cerebral work done today though, despite the heat. I banned myself from using the Internet after I'd done my work emails this morning and got most of one of the articles done. I should kill it off within the next day or so and then only 2 1/2 more to go. That is such a nice feeling.

Tomorrow morning I am meeting with a post-doctoral student from Ben-Gurion and am looking forward to talking with him about his experiences there, his research interests and so forth.

Thinking about Sabra and Banana --they should be somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean right now I'd think: almost HOME.

Whew, off to take my fifth get me cooler shower of the day! I'm going to be the cleanest girl in NYC.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

I like to help the homeless. I give money to homeless shelters, chuck a few coins into the salvation army coffers when they let their army lose on NYC during the Christmas holiday season, and sometimes buy them a sandwich or a cup of coffee if they claim to be hungry (I won't give them money directly). I draw the line at their sleeping in my apartment stairway, however.

Yes, the police were here again and this time they left with the staggering drunk who had passed out in our building in tow.

Because, you see, the security door is not fixed even yet. To make matters better, the outermost door doesn't shut all the way so anyone can open it. Best of all, the doorhandle on the outside of the outermost door has fallen off. Lack of a doorhandle obviously did not deter the drunk from figuring out how to pry it open. I, however, have had quite some difficulty getting it to open and I have a key. Perhaps it is like a childproof bottle --you know, the ones children can open with ease and adults are completely confounded.

Up until now, things have been relatively quiet since the break-in in January but boy, people are sure making up for lost time.

Friday, June 24, 2005

breaking news

Seconds after I posted the last note, Michelle came into my room and said, "I think someone is outside our door. Can you come here and see. The doorknob was rattling!" It is 4:22 by my watch.

Run to the door. Doorknob starts moving. Jump back. Eeek. Eeek. Half hysterical whispered consultation. Me whispering frantically, "call the cops again," Michelle saying, "wait look out the peephole first so we can identify him when we call in case he runs away." I look. No one right outside. Then I spot only an ass bent over down the hallway by the stairs. Sounds of profuse vomiting. Retching, gagging, euuuupphhh. It goes on for quite a while. Michelle starts timing it: 3 minutes of unabated yakking.

But then he gets up and lurches down the hallway toward our door. We abandon the peephole and back away. The knob starts moving again. He begins to push and prod at the door as well. We run to my room and call for the police. They take their sweet time. Hell they were just here minutes ago, what is taking so long.

I go back to the door to listen for noise of the would-be intruder. Nothing for a long minute. Then suddenly something, rather someone, thumps against the door hard. Yeeeeeee. We start looking for something heavy to shove in front of it (don't have anything heavy). My cat Buffy is all excited by this and goes to the door to check it out. "Buffy, no, get away from the door!" is my frantic whisper to my darling cat who complies quickly when he thumps against it again.

Run to the bedroom again and look from the window. Finally the cops are pulling up. Back to the door. Through the peephole I see the guy trying to open my neighbor's door with no luck. The cops appear up the stairs.

Sigh of relief (sort of): It is our new neighbor --the one who moved in upstairs a couple of weeks ago. He is so drunk he couldn't figure out which apartment was his. The cops lead him up and home.

Michelle was actually just starting a new blog about living in a slum in Hell's Kitchen and all the strange things that go on around here when the doorknob started rattling!

Ahhh, nice restful night...hmm it is nearly daybreak and the sky is getting light.

(8:03 a.m. Michelle has just posted a truly detailed and hysterical account of the events of the wee hours of the morning)

Minute by minute updates from the ghetto (Michelle says, no our title should be "living with the slumlord"):

The cops are outside again. 2nd time this week. We called them six days ago when we heard a lot of girls screaming for someone to call the cops. So we did. And watched from our window as a guy attempted to beat up another guy with a baseball bat. Just as the cops arrived the baseball bat guy and his accomplice jumped in their car and took off. We gave the dispatcher this info (we were giving her second by second reports) but she didn't bother to relay it to the cops. We finally went down and said, uhhh the guys took off about 5 minutes ago when you drove up (ya know the ones who peeled out...).

Well now it looks like some guy got stabbed in the hand or arm right outside. Again lots of noise and yelling out there and so we looked out (becoming regular little voyeurs here) and saw three cop cars and a guy sitting on the ground, arm covered in blood. Then the ambulance arrived and they started bandaging him while cops with flashlights searched the ground up and down the street. One cop car is leaving slowly. No, wait, another is arriving.

4:09 cops and ambulance and man with now massively bandaged arm all leave.

And we have no locked front door to our building. Yesterday Michelle was leaving to go to the store and seconds later I get a phonecall from Michie saying, "Katie....we're locked in!" I was like What?! Then I zipped down thinking my little friend had suddenly turned into an incompetent idiot unable to figure out how to open the door. But no. I couldn't open it either. We called the slumlord who came over to 'fix' it. About a half hour later he calls me to tell me that he nearly got locked inside too. The lock is broken. The door can be opened with a key from the outside but not inside. So it is propped open with a big sign saying do not close or we will all be trapped inside and die in case of fire. Of course, the slumlord said the locksmith was supposed to come today and fix it and of course no locksmith ever arrived. Probably about the time I move out he'll get around to getting someone here.

Ahhh life in the big city.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Many thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes! :) I usually don't look forward to my birthday but this year it turned out awesome --heck, I'll take one of these everyday :)

Even more new developments have appeared on the job front and I am still pinching myself to make sure it is real. I never thought I'd be this lucky. I'm going to be half-time at Ben-Gurion this next year and then in '06 I'm going to be teaching two courses at the IDC with the possibility that either of them will turn into a full-time position during that year. I feel so blessed. And I have to thank John and Y for their wonderful advice and information!!

I started a new conversational hebrew class last night (it is hard, hard, hard) that is supposed to be based on level bet in ulpans. I was very proud that I managed to tell one of the guys in my class that my fat cat and he have the same name --Mischa :)

Speaking of the fat cat, he is showing all the signs of having bathroom difficulties again. He is hating me at the moment because I went out and bought some canned pumpkin and forced it down him. Some cats really like it (my mother's for instance) but all of mine were like, you have GOT to be kidding me. He's also been dosed 3 times today with laxatone and given no other hard food. He better get over it because I in no way want another nearly 600 dollar enema bill!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

matana gidola bishvil yom huledet sheli

Yowzers, today (like 5 minutes ago) I got a major 'happy birthday' surprise -- an official official job offer from one university! It is for a half-time position and for one year with the possibility of extending it to a full time basis for another year depending on how things go, esp with getting fluent. The other U has been asking for syllabi from me for possible classes I could teach but nothing yet in terms of an offer. I have absolutely no idea what the salary might be like for a half-time position. This again is so different from interviewing/offers in the U.S. where discussion of salary is usually very upfront, often listed with the job-listing (but of course open to negotiation) etc. Anyone have any idea what a half-time academic salary looks like or should look like?

Last night friends threw a birthday party for me (birthday is today --lol, I got a year younger :) and I'll write more about how wonderful they are and how much fun it was in a bit!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

It is a beautiful, glorious, sunny day today. I'm enjoying sitting here and just looking out the window and thinking about how much I will enjoy my walk over to the NYC public library on 5th Avenue in just a little while. My apartment is actually cool --an indication that the weather is again a little chilly outside. After that massive heat wave we had for a few days, it has not gotten unseasonably cool --like spring, and with a need for a light sweater at night. Lovely.

This will be my very first, as well as my last, summer in New York City. Somewhat funny since I've lived here since the fall of 1997. I am missing the idea of being in Konstanz, Germany this summer -- the long walks by the lake, the shopping daily for my groceries, the wonderful Italian family who own a little restaurant just two doors down from the vacation flat I always rent and who 'adopted' me and fed me most incredibly, friends, having the time to sit down and work on my fiction book (never can get my mind 'there' to write on it during the hardcore work months). So I feel a little sadly nostalgic that I am not going to be there this summer. But I am also very much enjoying a summer here in the city and plan to really have a 'New York experience' and do all the things that tourists do but I haven't yet. I hope I have the time.

I have still a lot of hardcore work to get done -- 3 chapters, several studies to run, a revision of an article, writing up empirical manuscripts --this summer before I go. With my apartment and office in disaster-land this is very difficult. I can't write when surrounded by mess. And the mess needs to get sorted, filed, and packed or tossed. With a houseguest, this is also difficult.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Wow, Sabra and her adorable kitty Banana will be arriving Home in just 12 days! Sabra is a really kewl girl from Colorado and she and I have been sharing pet advice and "how to get our cats to Israel" information for awhile. She's just started a new blog about her Aliyah journey called Banana and I. You go Sabra! I'll definitely be reading with avid attention to see how the whole settling in process is going to work!

My best friend Michelle arrived on my doorstep at 7:30 a.m. this morning. I was asleep and had been happily asleep for only a short 2 hours when she got there. I am happy to say that there was enough space (a result of my being up all night) to allow her and her three very large bags into the apartment. I've never had guests before when my apartment looked like a nuclear bomb had been detonated and this is a first. I don't like it. But I do love Michelle and am so glad she is here. We are about to go out and get "snockered!"

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

A place to rest my head..

One major stress has been removed: I have a temporary place to stay that allows cats when I disembark from the airplane. The Bell Hotel in Tel Aviv allows pets. I had written them and four others that I found online that state they allow pets over the last several weeks and the lovely Bell was the only one to get back to me. They are the cheapest of the lot as well. I will now have two weeks (breakfast included *grin*) to find an actual real place to live where the movers can come and move me in. Now I can tell Nefesh and the Aliyah Center an address and they can stop pestering me with "we need an initial address and we need it now." Trust me, they didn't need this information anywhere near as bad as I did! Ahh relief.

I've become a bag lady in the meantime. A ziplock bag girl, that is. Peanut butter I knew to stock up on (though haven't yet) and my friend Michelle is carting 24 cans of tuna cross-country just for me. My cats soooo are going to love their Auntie Michie next year. And now, thanks to Einsof I have zillions and zillions of ziplock bags in all sizes so I do not have a zippie crisis next year.

Yesterday the 'other university' wanted to know what courses I would be interested in teaching and asked that I send along a detailed description of some of them. So I spent the afternoon hammering out six that I thought would both be fun to teach and would fit well with the program. Then this morning I got an email saying ahh very interested in one of the courses especially and maybe I could teach it in the business school in the fall... so tomorrow I need (they asked) to send them some supporting information showing I know what I'm doing with this topic :)

They also want my recent teaching evals and I'm proud to say (actually didn't know til today because I never got sent a copy of the final course evals from the last class I taught and had to go and ask for them) that 100% of my students said they'd recommend my class to a friend and 100% said they'd definitely tell a friend to take a course offered by me. I got very high ratings on all the other elements as well. I was very surprised, not to mention pleased, because this is very rare to get a 100% and the course was a hard one (graded hard, lots of reading, lots of assignments) and typically students who know they are going to get less than an A or a B+ tend to pan the class and instructor in the evals. The grades were pretty close to a bell-curve, mine didn't. I'd been really happy about evals for my other classes I'd taught before that ranked me in the upper 80s and low 90s. I must be improving as a teacher :)

Names: lol, I'm giving into the overwhelming pleas and not changing my name to Yocheved. I think it might have been Lisa's particularly passionate argument against it that sent the name officially into old lady land. Though, I do like the idea of Amy's of naming my next cat Yocheved...:) (I still feel a special kinship to those of you who also love this out-dated name!) But, since Imshin has a blond Yael I feel better and in good company. And I am as stubborn as a goat so maybe it does fit!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

From the mixed-up files of (Yael Kaynan?)

The dean from the "other university" called me this morning. I've not received an international call on the cellphone before and for some reason it gave the ring assigned to my mother --thank g-d I didn't answer it with a "Hi Ema!" The upshot was that they remain interested in me for a position starting in '06 and possibly something half-time for the first year starting this fall but nothing concrete yet. Both universities know where I am at with each other (only fair to let them know). A job at either place would be incredibly wonderful as they are both outstanding universities and I would consider myself more than happy and lucky to be at either.

I'm seriously thinking about capitulating and buying a little air-conditioner for this summer to put in my bedroom. I'm melting, much like the wicked witch of the west. Last night I resorted to wetting a towel and draping it around my body in an attempt to not melt into a pile of ooough. The towel was not an effective coolant; it immediately took on the 5,000 degrees reflecting my body temperature. And you know it is hot when you walk into the bathroom and discover _all three_ of my cats laying in the bathtub (yes, the -same- bathtub). It was a good 15 degrees cooler out on the street and at 11 p.m. it was still hot and humid as hell out there.

Nobody can tell me I'm too skinny now as I have obviously gained some major weight. Yes, the shorts that were about a size and half too big last summer (but were really cute and so I couldn't resist) now not only fit but are TIGHT and the ones that did fit last summer ...uhhh uh. I can't figure it out because I haven't changed my eating and exercise habits one iota, except for the addition of a starbuck's venti caramel frappacino with extra c and whipped cream per day in place of a starbucks venti breve latte. Ohhhhh wait, I was in Texas for a week and subject to my mother's "eat, eat" not to mention her really delicious cooking which made me want to eat eat. Hmmmm.

I'm feeling a twinge of guilt as I've just copied my 345th DVD. I think if I hit 400 the guilt is going to become overwhelming. At least I'm still sticking to my rule of "if I would rent this movie more than once in my lifetime I will buy it instead."

Packing: I'm on box 19 and can barely find space to walk in my apartment. I'm not even halfway finished either. The way things are going, when Michelle comes to stay _she_ is going to be sleeping in the bathtub.

Names: Do I look more like a Yochevet than a Yael? My roommate tells me it is "passe, old-fashioned and awful and no one would ever inflict it on a child today" but I love it. If I can't inflict it on a future child maybe inflict it on myself? :) I'm also thinking about Chaya because it is close to Katie, or maybe Keren.

If you haven't done so already, show Celestial Blue some love and buy one of her super cool bracelets to help her come to Israel.

Finally, Chag sameach!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


Wooooooooooooo!! Job at Ben-Gurion, job at Ben-Gurion!!!!! Just got an email saying, "there is a very good possibility of a job offering for next year. Please allow a few days for an eventual final proposal." Wooooo hooooo!!!

Now how far is the commute from Tel Aviv to Beer Sheva??! Dance, dance, dance. Gotta run --am chaperoning a bunch of 7 year olds on a school trip to the botanical gardens this morning to help out a friend of mine (their teacher). LOL, she owes me for life for this *grin*

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Vote on the new name :)

I have decided I will change my name. I still haven't decided exactly to what. Kaynan is pretty close to my last name now and so far is the only option for last names (this could change!). Right now there are three options in the running (lol, am open to others --send 'em along!):

Katie Yael Kaynan
Kaytlin Yael Kaynan (<--I tried doing Katelyn phonetically here)
Yael Katelyn Kaynan

I've noticed that in the interviews I've had that the interviewer consistently continues to call me Yael, even after several corrections of "It's Katie" and despite the fact that I sign each and every email Katie. So I'm wondering if I'm going to de-facto end up Yael...

Which do you think fits me? Any better ideas? First names, last names all suggestions are welcome!

Monday, June 06, 2005

The parade yesterday was a great deal of fun. About 30 Nefesh B'Nefesh families and singles turned out over the course of the parade (I wasn't the only one minus a t-shirt:), which went from 11-5 by the time the last group of marchers passed down our section of the Avenue. It was really nice getting to meet my fellow olim-to-be and hearing where they were planning to settle and what made them decide that now is the time to make Aliyah. There were so many cute kids around it made my biological clock not just tick but practically explode.

There were a good number of people wearing orange shirts at the parade (mostly watching but some marching) but they were far outnumbered by those not wearing anti-disengagement colours. I heard some interesting conversations regarding the orange shirts that were being sold, many of which revolved around the fact that the message on the front "Jews don't expel Jews," and on another version "not one inch," was too strong and that they would otherwise have bought and worn the shirts had the English translation of the hebrew message (written on the back of the shirts) been less strong.

One of the chants some of the kids marching were shouting was "2,4,6,8, Israel is a Jewish State. 3,5,7,9 there's no such thing as Palestine!" This got a lot of chuckles from the on-lookers.

It was a gloriously sunny day and, though hot, there was a slight constant breeze that kept it from being stifling (unlike my apartment!).

Ooooo I'm very excited. I found out that Mashina is playing a concert here on June 14th. I can't wait! I love Mashina!

Today my agenda is to pack my front closet, call El Al and find out about the crate specifications for the poor kitties that have to go cargo (and find out if they for positive sure pressurize and temp. control the animal section), work on a paper *cough* and try to find some way to keep cool!

Saturday, June 04, 2005

home again, home again jiggity jig

I got home last night and am up early to throw myself into the millions of things that I need to get done. Tomorrow is the Salute to Israel parade. I have organized a little get-together of the summer olim who are making Aliyah with Nefesh B'Nefesh at the parade and we are all going to wear our NBN t-shirts so we can recognize one another and do a little bit of publicity for NBN. Unfortunately, my t-shirt NBN sent out hasn't gotten here. Or rather, it came (twice) while I was in Texas but my roommate "forgot" to sign the little slip saying they could leave it without me signing for it. It is supposed to be delivered again on Monday --too late and UPS is closed today. Isn't that a fine kettle of fish?!

I'm afraid I stepped on some NBN toes with organizing this but I can't for the life of me figure out why. When I first posted the idea to the nbn group a lot of people were interested and a good number wrote saying, hey you know we should actually be marching in this parade --we're about as visible a sign of support as you can get. So I wrote to the parade organizers and then talked with them via the phone but, because it was only 2 weeks until the parade, they thought it might be a little late to organize us as a marching group. Instead, they suggested that we should be an "official observation group," and they assigned us a spot along the parade route and asked that I send along a blurb about Nefesh B'Nefesh so that, as the parade passed by, the announcers could point us out and say something to promote Nefesh and to let people know that we are all making aliyah etc etc.

I thought this would be great free publicity for Nefesh and also make a nice statement about support for Israel and encourage others to make Aliyah. So I said "cool!" and wrote to the folks at Nefesh to ask what they wanted the announcers to say --and got back a "for some reason we aren't taking part in this parade, even though we do want all of you to go to it wearing your shirts (they were sending out the shirts so we could wear them in time for the parade) and we'll get back to you about this." Then they didn't until earlier this week and they said they did not want anything about Nefesh to be announced. Then Thursday I found an email from the guy I'd been writing to at Nefesh saying lots of people were asking him about where we were supposed to meet up at and he asked me were we still meeting up and, if so, he'd send out (which he did) an email telling everyone the designated spot to meet. I wrote back confirming that we are still meeting at the designated spot albeit now as an unofficial organized group. So we will be there to promote Nefesh with the shirts (except for my shirtless organizer self) but not with any kind of announcement about the group by the parade people. Whatever...!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

News on the job-front: no not a job yet. But -- I got an email from the university I interviewed with back in April and they asked that I send along some more supporting information and said that a new dean had been hired and they wanted to vet me with the new dean for a full-time position. Sooooo, very good news maybe? :) They also said the letter of recommendation from Y was "beautiful" and asked that he send it along again to the new dean! :) Haven't heard anything back from B-G. The guy I talked with last week was a post-doc who was spending the semester in NYC. Things are definitely done differently in Israel than anywhere else I've ever applied for jobs! Hopefully something will come through though!

Abba sheli has headed back to New Orleans and I am feeling both relief and sadness. I have never seen anyone de-age before: he looked 80 when he arrived, and on Saturday he also looked really bad (and we unfortunately tired him out by taking him a museum here which was too much for him). On Sunday though we kept things very relaxed and mostly just sat and talked at a nice little bakery/coffee shop for lunch and then at home. Sunday night I was looking at him and thought to myself, good lord the man looks a good 3 years younger than he did when he first got here. But I was convinced that it was just because I was getting used to seeing him and so not noticing any longer how old he looked. But yesterday he looked significantly younger even yet -- so much so that my Mother commented that "he almost looks like himself again--like your father and not your grandfather." So it wasn't just me and wishful thinking. He was also much steadier with his balance and much quicker with his speech --normal speed and not the very slow cognitive functioning we saw the first 2 days.

I don't know if it was the fact that we were carefully making sure he was eating the regular small meals he should be or whether it was because he had something interesting to do in his life other than vegetating or what. The change was really dramatic whatever the cause. I have a strong suspicion my stepmother (can we say machshefa from hell?) is helping him along in not taking care of himself. He's an adult and should be doing the right thing in taking care of himself but, obviously, doesn't. And I almost can't blame the machshefa because living with him must be difficult at best. Living with her is enough definitely to drive someone crazy. Ugh. I couldn't help myself though, after seeing how much he had improved in such a short period of time and told him that I'm bringing him to stay with me for a month next year. My brother has determined to bring him back to Austin again too. Oy oh boy. Someone shoot me now!