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, September 26, 2005

cute little child? not quite...

So yesterday. Yesterday I had nothing much to do after ulpan except to study and it seemed a perfect day to take my books and a little snack and go sit in the shade at the picnic table outside my apartment in Jaffo to study and try to catch up on all the class things I've been ignoring. So I get myself all settled. I've only been sitting there for about 3 minutes when this adorable little boy, about 11 or 12 years old comes up to me. He has big brown eyes and an angelic little face and he asks very politely if I know where gan something or other is.

"No motek (sweetheart), I'm new here and I don't....HEY!!!!!!"

Motek has just grabbed my purse and taken off like a hare. It takes a second for my startled brain to compute that this angelic child has just stolen my purse. Then schoolbooks go flying and I take off in hot pursuit, hindered by a dress and sandals on already very blistered little feet. I'm shrieking at the little ben zona to come back, to stop, for someone to help and grab that child but no one seems to be taking any note. He shoots down a side alleyway and I follow. He has very much the advantage of me with a head start and, of course, being an 11 year old boy. He is not wearing a dress. He is quickly out-running me. I'm thinking of how badly I am going to harm this little angel when I get my hands on him. We turn onto another street and then down another alley, me still screaming at him like a crazy girl, then another street and down some steps in a "between blocks" cut-through. The steps in those sandals get me and by the time I reach the entry to the next street he is nowhere in sight.

I burst into tears. In the purse is my phone, my teudat zehut, my bus pass, my bank cards etc (no money though). In short, all my identification. My keys to the current apartment and the new apartment. I'm toast. A muslim woman comes up to ask if I'm ok and I'm too distraught to be able to explain well what has happened. Then a guy comes running around the corner with his dog on a leash and starts waving at me and yelling "boee" (come).

So, panting and still crying tears of rage and helplessness, I follow him and, as I round the corner, before me is quite a scene. There is a beat-up old car haphazardly parked with the car door hanging open. The owner of the car, a big man who obviously likes his dinner, has his hands on Motek and is in the process of delivering quite a thrashing to the little darling's behind. His wife, an equally big woman, sees me and begins to wave my purse in the air triumphantly.

I rush up still panting but now imploring the man to stop beating on the child. Although I had quite wanted to beat on the kid myself while I was chasing him, I don't believe in hitting children --it teaches them to not get caught rather than to change the behavior or to internalize any values. The man is quite reluctant to stop whacking on the child but finally gives in to my pleas and as soon as he lets go of the boy's arm the kid takes flight and disappears around the corner. Good riddance is all I can think.

The man and his wife had been driving down the street and saw me running in hot pursuit of the child down Sderot Yerushalayim and they decided to see if they could head him off at the pass. Luckily, they were successful! I have my purse back and my lifelines! I thanked them profusely and bestowed hugs and kisses all around. They ask if I want a ride back to my apartment and when I tell them I'm fine to walk back they insist on taking me. Wonderful people! Lovely people! They live on the street just behind mine and I am going to get them something nice as a thank you!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

yesh li dira!

I have it. It is mine, all mine! My cats are welcome in it, my furniture will (mostly) fit it in --the bed will fit but uh you will have to climb into the bed from the doorway of the bedroom and so I may not put it together-- I am more than ready to move into it. I can move in on the last day of September (the 1st falls on Shabbat) but she gave me the keys already and said it was fine to bring stuff into it before then.

So what was the final damage for it? A full years' rent in advance and in cash (well a single check) to be cashed on Oct 2nd. A 5,000 NIS bank guarantee (which cost an additional $300 NIS to get), a realtor's fee of one month's rent ($650) because, tho it was listed on homeless it was listed by the agent (sneaky that), a check in the amount of 10,000 NIS to held -not cashed -- in the event I were to flee the country or refuse to move out when my lease is up, plus two blank checks for the city municipality and the electric company in the event I don't pay the arnona or the bills. [Here's where having the "to the payee only" option on your checks makes you feel a lot more secure!].

I really like my landlady. She is a holocaust survivor from Hungary and a real sweetheart. After we negotiated the fine points and signed the lease, she took me out for coffee and some delicious cheesecake at a hungarian bakery/cafe. She is already trying to mother me (eat, eat, you can't have just coffee you are too skinny --and hey, I'm not anymore I'm gaining weight like crazy!) and has invited me to dinner next week.

So yesterday was a really good day ...all the way until I started my trek back to home sweet Yaffo. I had to stop and get kitty litter and dinner supplies because the cupboard was completely bare and the cat box was in dire straits since I had been too tired to lug home cat litter at midnight when I headed home on Monday. So I jumped off the bus close to the grocery in Yaffo and started shopping --got everything but the cat litter as they were o-u-t out. So then I dragged my heavy knapsack full of rocks (oh no, wait, it is only books and a computer?) plus the groceries two blocks backwards to the pet store and bought a 30 poundish bag of litter (smalled size they had). Now I carry all that crud two blocks back again to the bus-stop, wait 20 minutes unable to sit down for the bus, catch bus and get off one stop later, walk 2 blocks to my apartment, climb 3 flights of stairs and enter ready to a) wash my hands and then b) collapse.

But oh my, oh no, oh what is that smell? I have fastidious cats and they do not like their litter box to get into dire straits. In fact, they don't like that any of the other cats use the litter box at all. When the litter isn't changed daily they like to create their own litterbox somewhere --it is always a surprise --in the apartment. Ok I find the source and am ready to clean it up. I go to the kitchen and turn on the water and...nothing. Nothing emerges from the tap. Not a single drip. Bathroom: ditto. It sinks in --I have no running water. I have cat mess on the floor, I'm in a sweaty yucky state and desperately want to wash all the various parts of Tel Aviv and Yaffo that I've visited from my dirty little hands and THERE IS NO WATER. Call landlord, get answering machine, leave message and not a happy message. Grab keys and run down the stairs and down to the little store several blocks away --it is closed already because it is now nearly a quarter of 9. Run back and several additional blocks in the other direction and get to the _other_ store (the people are not very pleasant at this one so I avoid it) and buy 6 big bottles of water and drag them home.

As I arrive panting and near collapse outside my door my neighbor opens his and tells me I owe him his 85 shekels for keeping the stairs clean and he needs it now as in this second. Beseder, beseder, rak rega and by the way do you have water in your apartment? Oh yes, the water is off in mine because there was a leak (from what?) in mine that was going into the apartment below today and so he shut my water off (this he tells me in an accusatory tone). I was like, look I left the apartment this morning before 7 and all I did was brush my teeth and wash my face and there is no water anywhere in my apartment currently --no leak, no official water, no nothing --so how about you turn it back on because I desperately want and need to shower. No dice. I have to have the landlord come do it. They are supposed to have come this morning (so I was told when the landlord called me back after midnight, which was better than 2 a.m. like the last time he called) and they better have come. My poor cats have been locked in their carriers since a quarter of 7 this morning so they couldn't escape if the landlord did come as promised. I'm about to head home and check. If there is no water I'm going to beat that man from one end of Yaffo to the other. Tomorrow I have to go to Beer Sheva and meet the dean and everyone in my new department and I do not plan on arriving there minus a shower, as a real one and not 3 bottles of water dumped over myself!

Monday, September 19, 2005

What a day. It started for me at 5 a.m. Yep, 5 a.m. I love my new bet class. The teacher is fantastic, it is already fun having Kat in the same class and I was completely psyched about going again today. So psyched that I got up at 5 a.m. and was out the door at 6 a.m. This is because yesterday, when I hit the bus stop in Yaffo at a quarter to 7 I stood there wringing my hands until 7:40 watching first the 18, then the 25, 26, and 8 pass by the stop, crammed with people, without so much as slowing down. Then it happened again. So after the second 26 sped on by, I stuck out my hand. 30 shekels later I was at the ulpan about 2 minutes early. Whew!

Today I was determined to be 30 shekels heavier and I was. the only problem was that I got a bus and made good time and got there more than an hour early. The coffee shop on the corner was closed but there was another little cafe just up the road that was open and so I popped in, ordered some real coffee (yummmmm) went over my homework and tried to read the newspaper we'd been given the day before (ya know the big people kind with no vowels,eeek). Just as I was preparing to mosey on down to class my phone rang. It was the lawyer for my hopefully new landlady. He called to say that they'd need to do a thorough credit check on the guarnantors I need to provide and ascertain that they have in fluid money enough to cover my years rent plus additional in case I were to do damage to the apartment. Well, I don't know about you guys but I don't know many (ok probably any) with that kind of fluid capital. This is the land of overdraft living! He did say that if the university would sign a letter of guarantee for the costs he would accept that in lieu of 2 individuals...could I find out and get back to him this morning? Sure. Bye ulpan.

So then I was on the phone back and forth between the university and the lawyer. the university is happy to provide me with a letter stating I'm employed but not to do the guarantee. They'd do a guarantee if the apartment were in Beer Sheva --and it was pointed out that I could have an entire house there for 600 a month (but there is a reason for that!). So I finally negotiated paying the full years rent upfront plus an unspecified (to be determined tomorrow) amount. Then I had to go to the bank and pick up checks and find out about how to get money transferred from my bank back in the states to the one here. Then I had to go to the lawyer's office to pick up a draft of the lease --that puppy is like 7 pages! He wanted me to have a lawyer read it before the meeting tomorrow but I don't see the point of that since he said a lot changes will be made to it tomorrow.

Then the nice part of my day happened. I was supposed to attend a tea party in honour of John (shalom Israel blog) coming into town but sadly (sniff sniff) he couldn't come after all. I still was treated to wonderful tea by Savta Dotty and got to meet two of her friends, both very kewl people. D in particular was really great and had me in stitches several times. And having Jennie the wonder dog curled up next to me on the sofa was a real treat :)

So now I am at the net cafe, about to finish a paper and send it off and then head over to get Natan to translate this monstrosity of a "not the real thing yet" lease. then I'm going to fall over because tomorrow at 5 a.m. my alarm clock will ring...

P.S. The date got 2 thumbs up :)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

not celebrating just yet...

because if anything can go wrong it will go wrong most likely BUT, if nothing goes wrong, then I have an apartment. On Tuesday just after posting I checked one more time and saw that an apartment had listed in the last 10 minutes. Called it, was the first person to see it, called the owner from the living room of the apartment and said I wanted it. She said great and that I should come to get the contract from her the next morning --to call at 9:30 and she'd tell me where to meet her. So I took the day off of ulpan, called at 9:30 all ready to go pick it up so I could show it to Allison before signing :) and...she tells me "oh so sorry, the son of my neighbor wanted it and so I gave it to him." AHHHHHHH.

The day was made a really good one though because of the wonderful hospitality, humour, advice, and just all around kewlness of Savta Dotty. And, lest we forget, absolutely the best pecan pie on this side of the world! The rest of teh spread she had whipped up was fantastic too but that pie, oh my!!!! She is awesome --I'm adopting her!

Then last night I checked quickly into the net cafe one more time for listings and found an apartment listed for Dizengoff. I called the number and the girl said great I can show it to you tomorrow at 1 and, actually, I have a second apartment that we havent' listed yet but that you can see. Fantastic. So I left ulpan early (got yelled at by the mora too when I explained I needed to leave at the noon break and nearly lost my cool with her --hello, I'm not in high school anymore thank you so do not treat me like I am). My heart sank when I went to the building of the first apartment --I'd been here before. Apartments just evaporate within hours of being listed so I figured it could not possibly be the same apartment I'd seen almost a month ago in my first week here. It was. Well, considering the shape it was in maybe I shouldn't be surprised. The price had come down (to $600) but it would need to come down a lot more before anyone is going to rent that puppy. I was not too hopeful about what the second one would look like: also on Dizengoff it is way up by the park and the port (just where Dizengoff and Ben Yehuda meet).

Eureka. Big, not huge like the place in Yaffo, but big. Clean. Kitchen with fridge (oh the luxury) and, get this, big enough to put a small table in to eat on. Nobody faint yet, but I was on the point of swooning when I discovered: brand new bathtub --this is very important because I am a bath fanatic, especially in the winter! Space for washer and dryer! Quite big living room. Little room (very little room) with built in pull-out-to-a-bed sofa for guests or to just sit on. Little bedroom (the bed, if I put it together, would literally take up the whole room with only room to squeeze past it sideways) but additional little windowed alcove connected to the bedroom that can function as a computer/work room. $650. Absolutely at the maximum limit of what I can pay but I can pay it. So I said yeesssssss. The girl who showed it to me works with an agency and so there will be a fee but ok. The woman who owns it is an American and I meet with her tomorrow morning. Hopefully we will do the contract on Sunday or Monday (going to be calling Allison! :) provided that she likes me as a tenant.

Fingers, toes, eyes --anything I can cross and you can cross please cross!!

I managed to get switched into the 5 day a week bet class too (yay with Katherine!) just before I left ulpan for the day (take that, you nasty old witch who yelled at me!). Of course, the machshefa who works in the office in the mornings yelled at me too when I did this --I actually wasn't in there for that but to try to pick up the book I paid for earlier this week (I didn't get it). The machshefa was like, "Yael Kaynan I need your card because you are not in the computer" --since she gave it to me herself what two weeks ago? I should be. At first I couldn't find it and then eureka and when I gave it to her I said in passing, oh and I need to change into the 5-day bet. When she tried to refuse I said, look I'm on the waiting list for it, was told to come back this week to make the switch when the additional bet class was added and my job requires that I miss every thursday (ok, it doesn't exactly but hey) and so with the 3 days a week that makes it only 2 days I can come and that is not acceptable. She gave in and changed me over right there. Whew!!! So I escaped without asking for the book thinking get away while you're ahead!

Oh and to new olim a hint about the banks. 1) they do not mail your atm card to you --you have to go back and pick it up (I discovered this when I went in and said, hey my bank card never arrived what gives??) and 2)order checks with the "to payee only" option. This is not available in the States but it means that if you write out a check to someone and lose the check or something drastic like that no one else can cash it but the person it was written to. Nice idea. My checks were only 9 NIS to order and will be available for pick-up at the bank on Monday!

Now I need to see if I can convince people I know living in Haifa and Jerusalem to make the trek to Tel Aviv, should I get this contract, to sign on as guarantors. I didn't realize they had to come in person! I thought a letter from them ascertaining that I'm a nice normal person who is not going to flee the country without making good on my financial obligations would function. Again this is different than back home!

And I have a date tonight!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

If I haven't found an apartment by Friday, I am going to tell the folks in Yaffo that I will stay for the year and do a contract with them. I've almost gotten my hands on 2 really great apartments since sunday but had the people just ahead of me take it and tried to get my hands on a couple of others but the landlords won't rent to olim --they consider us too great a flight risk, even when I offered to pay them 10 months rent in cash in one fell swoop (which I really don't want to have to do). Both stipulated that I had to have a relative here in this country to co-sign. Well since I happen to be levad this is not an option :( I had managed to convince myself all day today that I would be happy being in the apartment in Yaffo for one year --it is really big, much bigger than almost anything I've seen in Tel Aviv, and only $400 a month so I'd be saving between $2400-3,000 in rent for the year which is nothing to sneeze at. Believe me. Sigh, then I walked down Ibn Givrol to the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and was like but waaaaaahhh I'm spoiled and I wanna live right here!

If I do end up taking the place in Yaffo then when my mother and brother come to visit in December I will put them up in a hotel instead of them staying with me, at least for the first week they are here. I want them to have a good and accurate impression of what it is like to live here (as opposed to what it is like in Yaffo, lol --they'd be like, excuse me you moved to this country why?) and I know that first impressions are really important. Plus, they'll need to be able to get out and about without my having to go with them everywhere, at least until they get a feel for the place, and they can't do that from Yaffo. They need to be able to wander and explore (and for my mother get back to a place to rest easily if needed), take walks on the beach, etc etc.

The biggest problem I have with finding an apartment is not being able to get online regularly during the day to check for new listings. When I get out of ulpan, most of the places that listed in the morning or late the night before are already gone and I don't usually have time to check and call them before the ulpan. So I have to keep popping back into the net cafe all afternoon to check for new ones and try to see them ande so often don't get home until quite late with lots of twiddling my thumbs in between. Often I'm just too tired to do it. You want me to come see an apartment at 8 p.m.? Well, I've been away from my apartment and at loose ends since 7 a.m and when I do get there the person who walked in the door right ahead of me will have snagged it (or it is a disaster area) or they won't rent to me...I don't think so.

I'm whining and I know I'm whining and I really need to just stop it.

Update: I have a better reason to whine --the apartment in Yaffo is not an option. Cousin of the landlord wants it.

Good news of the day though: I don't have to start teaching until Nov 3rd. YES!

update 2: I'm having a good day after all because tomorrow I get to meet Savta Dotty!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

you can't have everything...

but at least I have a shower now! Dmitri did not come as promised on thursday. Instead, he finally returned my gibbering bitching whining and otherwise yelling phone call at 2:30 in the morning. He swore up and down that he and his father would come on Friday at 4. And they did. Four hours later and after at least 50 years of disgusting black schmang from the depths of the drain on the floor in the bathroom had been washed around and through 3 rooms of the apartment, the drain was finally schmang free. The bathtub was able to drain! (And trust me, after I'd mopped the floors 3 times I definitely needed the shower!) I thought my landlords were russian Jews but it turns out that they are orthodox christians (catholic?) whose family has lived here for something like 7 generations. Abba of Dmitri seemed quite nice and fatherly --he looked to be about the age my own father should look and he invited me to come to dinner with the family for next Friday. I accepted. This was, however, before he a) informed me that, despite looking 60ish, he is in fact 43 b) that he is a widower and c)before he attempted to kiss me as I was sitting on the couch looking over one of my vocabulary lists. Scratch dinner with that particular mishpacha!

What I didn't get was the apartment. It was in the same building as the really fantastic one I saw before, owned by the same people, BUT was $50 more a month and 20 sq meters smaller than the other one. For those in the States, 20 sqm is a LOT. In others words, it was tiny. The advantage was the very large veranda (it is a rooftop apartment) but since my bed cannot be set up on the veranda --it would take up even the entire living room with no room to walk past it --it was a no-go. Argh!!! I was so disappointed I was literally almost in tears. I called my mother and terrified her --for some reason my calling gave her a shock and she figured something horrible had happened. But she tells me she's gotten over the shock. Hmmm maybe I should call more often and get her used to the idea that I can use the phone without it being an emergency of some kind.

I'm sitting at the Coffee Bean right now connecting for free! I discovered that the #18 comes right almost exactly to the Coffee Bean and this has made me an extremely happy camper.

I had my first haircut experience b'ivrit this morning. It was not a good one. The guy (he was russian) cut my bangs so that I look like an idiot from the 1950s. He tried to convince me to get dark brown streaks put in my hair because this is very popular here --actually, more popular is to have dark brown hair with streaks of blond but I guess he figured streaky is streaky and no matter the combination. I got a load of the skunk, er woman, he'd just finished streaking heavily right before me and declined. He obviously needs to go back to hairdressing school... or maybe go for the first time. I'll not be a regular at that particular salon. It definitely seemed convenient though as it was right next door to my apartment.

I have a ton of homework to do for tomorrow and I have a paper due on Wednesday (work work). I need to find a place to fax a copyright release document today (maybe hotels do this? haven't seen anyplace advertising faxing services) or a finished paper won't get published. I'm skipping my swim today (waaaaaaa) in order to work on the paper.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Today has been such a better day than yesterday. Yesterday kita bet was kicking me in the pants but today ahhhh today lightbulbs lit, I understood (is she maybe talking more slowly suddenly?) nearly everything she said and life was so much better. I wasn't late. In fact, I was nearly 20 minutes early. Take note of this because it is a historical first! It is going to go down in some history book somewhere "and on the 7th of September, 2005 Yael was not late to something."

I spent 6 hours studying yesterday after class --after I'd had the shocking experience of finding out that 'oh my G-d, I actually got what a wished for and should have been more careful in the wishing!' I re-wrote all my class notes, created special vocabularly lists and did the homework. And this morning I did not forget my homework at home (unlike yesterday which added to my bad experience especially after getting fussed at by ha'morah) because I went out and bought a binder to put all the loose papers she gives us in and a different notebook (I had two identical ones at home and grabbed the wrong one yesterday in my sleep-deprived haze) for my class. It made a major difference. I was practically skipping around by breaktime I was so happy to be understanding.

After ulpan Kat and I went to the beach --much nicer beach right by the ulpan than the one I've been going to! --and bobbed around in the lovely warm and gentle (today) ocean. Then we grabbed a bite to eat and I came here.

Tonight I will hopefully get a working shower. Yes, the bathtub drain is still broken and I can't keep borrowing friends' showers everyday --talk about a way to wear out your welcome and friendship fast! The landlord (Dmitri) has been swearing daily that he will come to fix it and I finally pidgeon-holed him last night and was like, look either you fix it or I'm going to arrive on your doorstep to use your shower every day until it is fixed and don't think I won't do it! So he comes at 7 tonight. This is kinda a bummer because there is supposed to be a kewl parade thing on Dizengoff tonight got it, 7 pm. So no parade for me :( Beseder, I want that shower working and I want it working NOW.

Oh a nice thing happened this morning. Since I was so very early I was able to pop into the little cafe close to the ulpan and get a kaffe afuk to go. But the guy didn't have change for my 100 shekel note so he was like, "beseder, come back later and I'll have change then, I trust you." He trusts me. He's never seen me before today in his life! Well, so of course I came back during my break at ulpan to pay him. I ordered another coffee to go and when he was ringing it up he'd obviously forgotten about the first one and I had to say, 'hey wait you have to also add in the coffee from this morning!' This you don't get in the States!

Tomorrow I see the apartment again and I really am hoping that I'll get it.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Today was a "free" day for me --no ulpan. I spent the morning doing laundry and calling about apartments. Then I went to the shuk and picked up two skirts --got a super deal on them (talked the guy down 10 shekels :) I love the shuk! Then to the bank and for a swim.

Looking forward to the bet class tomorrow. Yesterday the class was a good one. I found it a nice mix of things I already know and new material so I think I will defintely get something out of it. I do really wish it was 5 days a week though because I soooo need the language. I might look into doing some private lessons in addition or something along those lines. I get so frustrated because I constantly find I don't have a word or even any idea how to express things.

Remember that great apartment I found that didn't fly because they don't allow pets? Well, it is listed again on homeless and so I called again today. The woman, I think, recognized me because she said almost immediately they don't allow pets. I pretended not to recognize her and was like oh what a shame. I have a cat (heh notice the foot in the door of 'a" cat) and she is very old and sleeps all day long, are you sure you wouldn't make an exception? Then she kind of wavered and said, well they wouldn't want pets disturbing the neighbors. Oh, well, my cat is an indoor-only cat so they wouldn't even know she was there...I mentioned that I had seen the most beautiful apartment on Geula before and was still looking because nothing I had come across had compared to this great apartment. What a great location, I so would love to live on this street...The upshot is that I should come see the apartment on Friday and if I want it to call her immediately.

Could it be that fate really has that apartment in store for me?! It really is true that I have used that apartment as a measuring stick for all the other apartments I've seen and only one has come into that ballpark (actually, that one was even nicer but not by much). The one sticking point would be if the washer/dryer hookup doesn't function in this apartment --I think I remember the guy who was living there saying he didn't think it worked. That would be a major downer.

Ahhhh I need advice from all you olim and native Israelis out there :) I have to sign up for a health insurance/program (keep forgetting about doing that) and I have no idea which of the four --I think it is four choices--available providers is the best. Which one gives the best coverage and treatment? How satisfied are you guys with the one you are with and have you tried others and found them unsatisfactory? All the nice little pamphlets I got from them of course claim they are the very best blah blah but I wanted advice from the actual customers!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Vengeance is mine! Don't you just love it when you prove you are right and get your way?! My proof came with a cost, however, --more than 4 hours of my time! I arrived at ulpan this morning at 8:00 sharp ready to argue with the best of them and get into the bet class. This meant getting up at 6 a.m. (not easy since I had hung out chatting with a friend until nearly 2 a.m. before we noticed the time!). I should have slept in!

When I got there the secretary oh so helpfully sent me upstairs to talk to some woman who then looked at me like I had two heads when I told her I needed to know which bet classroom I should go to. She sent me back downstairs. The second secretary then tried to send me back up to her but luckily the woman came down herself and was like, "how should I know what class she should be in, that isn't my job!" So then I was told to wait to talk to the principal. So I waited. And waited. 9:00 came and went. The 10:00 break came and I chatted with Katherine who also was trying to get into bet. Then, next thing I know, there is Katherine sitting in the principal's office. I waited just outside the door and when the door re-opened Katherine beckoned me to come in quick. It still didn't work. The principal unceremoniously kicked me out of her office with (for the 5th time that morning) a lot of waving of the hands and "just a few minutes." Finally, finally at a quarter of 12 she beckoned me inside. I explained again that aleph plus was too easy and I needed to be in bet. She was like, "ridiculous, far too advanced for you." I was like noooooo (actually more like NO IT IS NOT --my temper was rather high after all that waiting and missed hours of lovely sleep). So then she wanted to know how I did on the test. I informed her that she had informed me, last week, that I didn't need to take the test and that I could "find the class that fit me by trying several of them out." But fine, I'll take the test if that will help.

So I took the test.

Fast forward 25 minutes later and I, and my test, are back sitting in her office. She grades it. Oh dear... I missed ...only one on the entire test and I'd noted the correct answer in the margin (couldn't remember if the nun dropped out or not in the future tense of a particular verb --it does). She informed me that I can't talk my way out of a paper bag (in essence) but that I have excellent reading, writing, and comprehension and so I do belong in bet. Voila, finally (!) I have my permission paper to attend the bet class. It meets only 3 days per week and (lovely lovely happy happy) it starts at 9 a.m. instead of 8:15! Someone had just been in to see her and gotten the last spot in the everyday-bet class. Hmmm wonder who that could be? :) In a month, she said, I should come back and talk to her and she will get me into the full-week bet. Ahem, I'm not holding my breath on that one --5 hours of non-breathing as I waited would surely be the end of me! It would definitely be the end of her.

Hopefully the bet class will prove more challenging.

On another note, it is hot as in HOT. I'm pouting that I can't go in for a swim because I had to bring my laptop with me to do some work (ahhh yes, I remember something about real work once upon a time :) and I can't just go leave my computer sitting unattended at the beach while I indulge in cooling myself off. Depending on what time I am meeting with the other olah this afternoon I might #25 home, deposit the laptop, and zip back to splash about for a while. Mighty tempting!

Friday, September 02, 2005

Ahhh sitting in the net cafe, having a coffee after just having emeged from the sea. Yes, I fled Yaffo for the day :) On Sunday I am getting together with another new olah who arrived the day after I did. She and I want to pool our ideas on finding apartments and dealing with other issues -we are pretty much in the same boat. She is also going to be doing ulpan at Ulpan Gordon.

One of the things I'm finding really frustrating on the apartment-seeking front is the issue of actually getting in touch with someone to get to see the apartment. A good number of listings seem to have incorrect numbers, or (maybe) numbers where you have to do something in order to get to the person -- I can't understand the automated message I get from cellcom when I call those numbers so I'm not sure. Then, at least 50% of the numbers just ring with no chance of leaving a message (and no matter what time you call) or I leave a message but they never get back to me. Grrrr. I refuse to get up. Next week is going to be my lucky week and I will find an apartment _early_ in the week that is nice, clean, takes cats, and will rent to an olah. It is going to happen. Please G-d.

I like the apartment in Yaffo well enough. It is huge that is for sure. There is only one problem with it and it is a seriously major one --the bathtub doesn't drain. At all. I wanted to clean the tub last night (of course) so I could take a nice shower and turned on the water and started scrubbing but very quickly realized that the water coming in wasn't going out. I spent the next 20 minutes trying to figure out if there was some kind of knob or button or something keeping the drain from being open but can't find _anything_ along those lines. I thought, ok so maybe it is just going to be an annoying really slow-draining tub. So I let it sit and came back an hour later --no sign of any water having receded. In the morning I checked again ...surely....but no, it is like New Orleans. I had to take a sponge bath again this morning and this is sooo not going to continue. Tonight, Natan is getting a "what the hell" call and the boy better run for cover.

Speaking of New Orleans, I am simply aghast at the state of the city and the people within it. What the hell? The U.S. can get troops to Iraq, aid to tsunami victims within days, but they can't get in to evacuate and care for their own citizens in a major city in their own country?! I know Lousiana is a complete Banana Republic and has the kind of political corruption and ineptness generally found in mickey mouse third world countries but the federal government is doing even less and, more ineptly, than the idiots in charge of local affairs there. I grew up in that city and even though I really despise it I feel just heartsick for those poor people.

Through my brother I learned that my father had planned to wait out the storm there and only just left in time after my brother called and told him in no uncertain terms to get the hell out of there. He, and his second family, have lost everything. I think in the weeks ahead my brother and I are going to be doing a lot of email consultation on how best to help out in this very bad situation for them.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Elohim sheli. This apartment I moved to temporarily in Yaffo is way the heck way way far from the center of town. Did I say Yaffo? It is almost in Bat Yam. And there is nothing around this apartment but other apartments for a good 20 minute walk (that I've been able to find. Believe me, I looked). Well actually that isn't true --there is a hair salon and a flower shop and a little kiosk place about 4 blocks away. The apartment itself is really nice, except for having to keep the windows shut because of the cats and so hot. Well, that I can deal with. But I'm going to go out of my mind with no tv, no internet, and electrical outlets that don't, for some reason fit my adapter so I couldn't connect the computer or the ipod. I'm studious but not that studious and staring only at my hebrew notes, the walls, and the cats evenings is going to quickly drive me nuts.

The apartment I saw last night was really cute --right next to Dizengoff Center but, although listed as available immediately they lied and it doesn't come open until Oct 1st. Noooooo, I want something miyad. I want something yesterday. I want out of Yaffo :)

I saw something very disturbing today that made me scream, literally. These men were making a horse pull a cart with hay bales on it as well as like 4 guys laying on the cart. The guy leading the horse was beating it mercilessly. The more he beat on this horse, the more it shied and didn't want to go. The horse was underfed, it had patches of hair rubbed off its sides and big welts from being hit with the leather strap he was using. Then, THEN he hit the poor beast with that strap right in the face. I came screaming up the street, shrieking 'tafsik, ze lo nachon! Ze lo nachon!" I couldn't think of anything else to scream. They laughed. I wanted to scream that I was calling the police but I couldn't remember how to say that (note to self, learn that phrase so it comes automatically even under pressure). They made little shooing motions at me and were saying something to me (probably mind your own damn business) but I just kept yelling ze lo nachon at them. I grabbed my phone and made as if I was dialing (note to self: learn the police number --not that I could explain what was going on if I knew it, but I should know it for other emergencies). Finally the poor horse went and the guy beating it jumped on the cart too and off they disappeared. I was shaking with fury and just literally felt sick. How anyone can treat an animal that way, I just can't understand. I wanted to grab that strap and beat on the guy and see how he liked it. I wanted the poor horse to kick him to timbucktoo. I wanted to cry.